Editors' Note: Guest blogger Becky Dansky is a recent law school graduate. She is the former federal lobbyist for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
You have probably heard the rumors that the economy isn't so great these days. If it hasn't affected you, it's probably hurt someone you know and it has definitely hurt some organizations you know. In a down economy, the first thing to go is charitable giving. This is not to say that people have stopped giving altogether, but there is no doubt that non-profit organizations have suffered the last several years.
Non-profits are unable to adequately compensate their employees or expand their staffs. These groups do important work that is too often taken for granted. Non-profit groups have always struggled to make ends meet. They expect employees to shoulder responsibilities that would be more appropriate for two or three staff members. They offer non-competitive salaries usually justified by saying "Well, we are a non-profit..." And that was before the economy went to hell.
So what can anyone do about it? Give. Give till it hurts. It is the holiday season and we're all spending money, whether we have it or not. I spent $20 bucks on a tree topper last week - and I'm Jewish. What if I sent that $20 to shelter people in desperate need? Perhaps it could buy a meal or two. And what if we all sent $20 to a national organization that is struggling to cover its debts or a new organization that is just starting out and can't even afford to pay its staff? We could all just use the hideous tree toppers we settled for last year.