[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
MUSIC: We’re gonna rock this town — rock it inside out…
TOM BEARDEN: This costume ball was an important moneymaker for the Denver chapter of Dress for Success. The international organization helps women make the transition from welfare to the workplace. But organizers were disappointed when they were only able to sell about half the number of tickets they had anticipated. Since September 11, nearly 70% of all Americans have given an unprecedented amount of money to relief agencies for New York– over $1 billion so far. But that outpouring of generosity has had some unintended consequences for local agencies in the rest of the country. Charities like Dress for Success are experiencing troublesome drop-offs in donations. Kimberly Bourne was in charge of the fundraiser.
KIMBERLY BOURNE, Dress for Success: With everything that has happened since September 11, we’ve seen a pretty large decline in our support base. We’re hoping that that will not continue going into next year.
TOM BEARDEN: You’re a bit worried?
KIMBERLY BOURNE: Yes. I think we’re a bit worried; we’re not alone. I think a lot of non-profits in our community and the United States as a whole are concerned because of what has happened. A lot of our donors’ money is going east, of course.
SPOKESPERSON: Tell him to bring his wallet. (Chuckles)
TOM BEARDEN: Dress for Success was lucky. It was able to make up some of the losses in a silent auction at the ball. Opera Colorado wasn’t that fortunate. Peter Russell is the organization’s President.
PETER RUSSELL, Opera Colorado: We had a wine auction for which we anticipated earning something like $74,000 slated for the 4th of October, the invitations for which went out the week prior to September 11. That pretty much killed our RSVP’s stone dead. So the committee made a decision which, in hindsight, I think, is the most responsible one: To cancel the event and those wines and other goods that the vendors did not demand back we contributed to the American Red Cross for their own wine auction for the victims of September 11 disaster relief.
TOM BEARDEN: Volunteers at Metro CareRing, a food pantry in downtown Denver, are finding it harder and harder to keep their shelves stocked. That’s because donations to the pantry have fallen 18%, while the need for services has increased 33%. Executive director Beth Taylor:
BETH TAYLOR, Metro CareRing: We’ve experienced a lot of people who’ve been recently laid-off. We’re calling them the “new poor”: People who work in travel and tourism industries, communications, in service jobs who’ve been laid off. And the job market is already tight, so there’s nowhere else for them to go. We’ve also seen an increase in people who are working on commission. I would say since September 11, the number of people purchasing hard goods, like cars and furniture, has really decreased, and the people who were relying on that for their income have really been impacted.
TOM BEARDEN: Taylor acknowledges that both the increased need and the declining donations are also the result of an economy that was slowing even before September, but the terrorist attacks accelerated everything.
BETH TAYLOR: People need to hear and understand that the trickle-down effect from that event is now hitting our communities. And in order to serve your country, remember that your local communities and your local non-profits have really seen some changes and need your help now.
TOM BEARDEN: November and December are critical fundraising months for non- profit organizations.
BARBARA SHAW, Colorado Association for Non-Profit Organizations: Do you hear of more people being laid-off, and stuff?
TOM BEARDEN: Reporter: Barbara Shaw, who directs the Colorado Association of Non-Profit Organizations, says groups have to be careful in their pitch for money.
BARBARA SHAW: We do not want to be seen as begrudging the money that went to the East Coast. We all know the importance of that. A few years ago here in Colorado when we had the Columbine incident, we know how important it was for those funds to come into Colorado to help people in the aftermath of that. And this is such a much bigger incident, so we don’t begrudge that money. In fact, it’s encouraging to see how much money can be raised in a short time.
TOM BEARDEN: Shaw thinks the outpouring of gifts to New York will inspire people to give locally as well.
BARBARA SHAW: What we hear is that a lot of people who gave to the East Coast disaster sites are first- time givers. Well, those are people who… Now they know what it feels like to give. We need to follow up with those people and connect them with some local non-profits to give. So we see it as a real opportunity.
TOM BEARDEN: Denver’s performing arts groups are also encouraged. There was a slight dip in attendance immediately following the attacks, but things are mostly back to normal. And the lifeblood of most charities, the large donations from foundations, corporations and well-to-do individuals have, for the most part, remained steady.