INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some Central Indiana charities and nonprofits are experiencing greater need at the end of this year than in years past; many are saying “giving fatigue” is to blame.
Representatives from the Salvation Army, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana and others report private donors and businesses who usually donate items or dollars this time of year are saying they’ve spent a significant portion of their philanthropic budget on the summer and fall’s back to back-to-back natural disasters, including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
“Generally, we have mountains of these,” said Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Lecureux, coordinator for Toys for Tots, referring a box of toys for infants and toddlers. “Last year, we probably had 25,000 newborn toys. This year, we’ve only had about 4,000 toys in this age range.”
Lecureux and other organizational leaders are quick to point out the validity and essential value of natural disaster relief donations.
“I’m not taking away from those funds, they’re great,” Lecureux said. “There are families who have lost everything, and a toy is second to that. But, we still have the requirement here in the local community, and it’s so easy to give back.”
Lecureux said, at this time last year, his team was traveling to their 400 participating businesses, picking up boxes “full to the brim” with toys. Recently, they’ve picked up boxes with just one or two toys inside.
“It’s very unnerving. We’re putting in 15-16 hours a day trying to do everything, everything we can because I take it extremely personal,” said Lecureux, who says he received gifts from Toys for Tots as a child. “If I know I didn’t do everything I can and I know that I had kids sign up and that I couldn’t give them a toy, it doesn’t sit well for me. I’m going to do what it takes.”
Toys for Tots is specifically asking for toys for newborns to 3 years old, and toys for boys older than 9 years old. If donors prefer to give cash, Toys for Tots will purchase those types of toys in bulk. Their goal is to provide toys to 40,000 children this year and are currently 8,000 toys short of that goal.
Salvation Army Red Kettle Coordinator Andy Amick said his organization is suffering from lack of volunteers. He said, as of the first week in December, the campaign is behind by 3,000 hours of bell-ringing volunteer hours. He said that is equivalent to losing about $40,000 in donations.
The “giving fatigue” impact isn’t only hitting holiday organizations. Representatives with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana reported a tough fundraising this past fall as well.
“We heard a little more that people were stretched thin and saw some kind of decreases or closed doors in that time in particular,” said Darcey Palmer-Schultz, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.
Thanks to consistent donors, Palmer-Schultz said, they’re ending the year strong but are altering their plans for 2018.
“I think one of the things we’re trying to do is make sure we get further ahead in our planning and fundraising,” Palmer-Schultz said. “Make sure that the impact of an unfortunate but specifically timed natural disaster wont impact our fundraising efforts as much.”