2017 Was Tough For Veterans Nonprofits. Here’s How To Weather 2018
According to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, demand for services by veterans peaks about four decades after a conflict ends. The year 1978 was relatively quiet for active American military personnel, besides a brief Air Force involvement in South Zaire. Yet today, in 2018, the demand for veteran services is as high as many observers can remember it ever being.
Statistically speaking, veteran service organizations (VSOs) should be in a period of regeneration, as they prepare for the growing needs of military families and veterans. The millions of veterans involved in the myriad conflicts that came after 1978 — including the wars and conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and of course Afghanistan and Iraq — will continue to need support today and into the future.
Yet, on the whole, these military-serving organizations aren’t growing; quite the opposite, Despite 16 straight years of war and no end in sight, giving to VSOs was down last year for the 15th year in a row — from .18% of all philanthropic giving to .13%. Similarly, the number of nonprofit organizations focused on veterans and military families continued to decline in 2017, to around 41,000 from a high of 48,000 less than a decade ago.
Additionally, there were noteworthy turnovers in leadership in the VSO community that will have significant impacts on service consistency and organizational sustainment. For example, the executive director at San Diego based non-profit zero8hundred left after three years, and the leadership at a leading women-focused veteran nonprofit has turned over for the third year in a row. One NAVSO member and partner, R4 Alliance, had to close its doors despite years of hard work to build a sustainable model. Other organizations that have served broader populations for decades defunded their programs focused on veteran reintegration.
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