Local non-profits look to overcome challenges from pandemic

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Thousands of non-profit organizations in Winnebago and Boone Counties offer educational and health and mental services to their patients but a new survey shows challenges these organizations face coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey from the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence says some of the biggest challenges for these organizations are competitive salaries and recruiting and maintaining long-term staff and volunteers.

Family Counseling Services is a non-profit in Rockford offering mental health services for its patients. During the pandemic, more than 30 people were on a waiting list to get counseling.

“We’ve been fortunate to receive funding from the Winnebago county community mental health board, and we were able to expand our services,” says Family Counseling Services Executive Director Lynn Momberger.

That expansion includes more therapists and office space than before, but Momberger believes the staff’s willingness to help others makes them worth double what they’re getting paid.

“It’s very difficult for nonprofit mental health care providers to compete with private practice. But fortunately, in our community, we’re able to provide that service and have people who are willing to do that.”

Shelter Care in Rockford helps families find homes for the night. They also struggle to retain staff.

“There are more jobs out there than people are looking so there are a lot of open positions,” says Shelter Care Executive Director Sarah Parker-Scanlon.

Like Family Counseling Services, Shelter Care wants to offer more competitive salaries to its employees. But the minimum wage increase set to start in January in Illinois means more fundraising is needed to offset expenses.

“As the demand goes up, the needs go up. If the community is willing to support those organizations, it’ll only help them to be able to meet that demand,” says NICNE Executive Director Pam Clark Reidenbach.

The number of people who volunteered nationwide in 2021 dropped almost 25% but the number of volunteer hours per person increased to more than 40 hours.

There are more than 2,200 registered non-profits in Winnebago County and more than 300 in Boone County.