Bainbridge Community Foundation has provided a snapshot of Bainbridge Island that is a selfie of what it looks like from the standpoint of nonprofits.
Dana Binnendijk, BCF community impact officer, said the “State of the Sector” report is not meant to provide all the answers, but instead is meant to start the discussion about vulnerabilities in the community.
“Local nonprofits play a critical role in supporting our community, and we hope this report sheds some light on how hard they work to ensure that programs and services are inclusive and accessible for everyone,” said Jim Hopper, BCF executive director. “Islanders have a history of stepping up when they learn about needs in the community, and we hope this report will be informative and help inspire others to action.”
Binnendijk said some overall comments on the report.
She said the cost of living on BI has gone up much faster than most other places. When looking at the federal standard, the poverty rate may look low. But since costs are often much higher on BI, “Affordability has drastically decreased in the past decade.”
Affordable housing is an example. Home prices are up 90% from $450,000 in 2015 to $950,000 now and rent 60% since 2014 from $900 to $1,500 a month. And it’s gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic started as people are “moving out of Seattle because it’s been such a challenge to live in.”
She said even though 77% of islanders make over $50,000 a year, 3.6% live in poverty. Even though people, in general, are making more money, “It’s a challenge for some people to stay in the community.”
Binnendijk said it actually costs about $79,000 for a family of four to live in North Kitsap, but 23% make less than $50,000 a year. She added 9%, about half of all living in poverty, are ages 65 and older.
Also vulnerable are single women with children who are “barely keeping up,” she said, adding free lunch status in schools is probably more than most people realize. Women in the workforce have been most affected by coronavirus restrictions. That is because many work in service jobs, which have faced cutbacks, and others quit jobs to stay home with kids because of school closures.
Low-paying jobs saw the most cuts during COVID. “Inequality is so drastic. It’s a concern we all have to think about,” Binnendijk said. Actually, local nonprofits are thinking about that. Another part of the survey shows that is a planned emphasis of future training.
Mental health is an issue, especially for youth and the elderly. For kids, the report shows 30% suffer from depression and 70% from anxiety.
On a positive note, organizations that help seniors started online programs that actually expanded their scope. “If they couldn’t leave their homes, even if they lived in Silverdale, they were still able to participate,” Binnendijk said. “Our nonprofits were incredibly resilient during tough times.”
The BCF report also provides information on a National Citizen Survey of BI residents randomly selected. It says islanders have a low opinion of the cost of living on the island and the small amount of affordable housing. But they have a very high opinion of community participation, arts and culture, recreation, volunteerism, natural environment and K-12 education.
A closer look
BCF surveyed 100 local nonprofits, of which 53 responded. A positive trend was 83% were able to meet fundraising goals, although Binnendijk mentioned that could be because expectations were lowered due to COVID.
• Health, housing and human services: BCF helps 22 agencies in this category. The majority said they were able to meet demand and fundraising did meet or exceed expectations. Binnendijk said that makes sense because many donors during a crisis want to help others with basic needs. “It does not mean they are all fine and dandy,” she said, as because of COVID many lacked volunteers, with those left having to “run themselves to the ground.”
• Arts culture and humanities: BCF funds 10 agencies. Locally, like nationwide, this area suffered during COVID. About 75% said they couldn’t meet demand as many shut down. Binnendijk said places like Bainbridge Performing Arts did a great job pivoting to connect with audiences online, where they actually were able to expand their reach. Many want to continue that effort even when they return to normal activities.
• Education: BCF supports seven entities. Meeting demand and fundraising were high. But the drop in district enrollment, from 4,223 in 2005 to 3,560 this year, continues to be a concern.
• Environment, recreation and animal welfare: BCF funds 12 agencies. About 75% said they were not able to meet demand.
What is BCF?
BCF helps nonprofits with connections, donations, education programs, stewardship of donors, grants, and data collection and analysis. The funds it contributes to include: Community Grants Cycle; Housing Action; Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Social Justice; Youth Experience Support; and Scholarship.
“We look forward to continuing support of local nonprofits through grantmaking, analysis and educational programming,” Hopper said.