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Federal Shutdown Survey

Feb 14, 2019


If Congress does not pass legislation to extend particular spending bills and resolve a dispute over funding for a U.S. Mexico border wall, then the federal government will shut down after Feb. 15 for the second time in 2019. 

On January 25, President Trump signed legislation putting an end to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

The legislation extended funding for affected federal agencies for 3 more weeks and tasked a conference committee to resolve the dispute at hand about the border wall. 

This partial federal shutdown affected many federal agencies and resulted in nearly 800,000 federal workers missing paychecks. 

For this reason, we surveyed Colorado's nonprofits between January 23 and 30th to find out how the shutdown affected their operations and services.

Results of the government shutdown survey

123 nonprofit leaders took the time to give a response. Here's are the highlights of what we found:

About half of nonprofit leaders reported impacts on the people and communities they serve including:

  • Helping families of furloughed federal employees access emergency housing assistance, groceries, and other basic needs;
  • Closures of federal agencies delayed service delivery by nonprofits. Examples included delays to annual trail maintenance and wildfire mitigation, federal handling of housing discrimination complaints, and electronic filing of nonprofits’ tax returns;
  • Addressing increased demand for nonprofits’ services due to current and potential shut downs of federal assistance programs, such as SNAP, TANF, VA payments, and Section 8 vouchers.

More than one in four nonprofit leaders reported impacts on their nonprofits’ operations and revenues including: 

  • Stoppage of federal grant payments or reimbursements for services delivered under grants and contracts.
  • Approval of federal grant applications and communications with grant officers could not occur due to furloughed employees and agency closures.
  • Some nonprofits experienced reduced donations from families of federal employees.
  • However, most organizations surveyed did not experience reduced donations and either did not receive any federal funding or their federal funds were not presently impacted. 

Many nonprofits did more to help people impacted by the shutdown and sustain their programs. Examples included offering interest free payments for class tuition, increasing public communications about services available to furloughed employees, partnering with food banks and more. Some nonprofits reported they had dipped into reserves and were applying for new credit lines to sustain programs and prevent layoffs.

Colorado’s nonprofits worked harder when faced with increased needs from the families of federal employees due to the partial shutdown. But the shutdown also reduced funding and caused delays for many nonprofits that keep our communities strong. Had the shutdown continued, we would have seen more families in need and less capacity for nonprofits to help. Future shutdowns will only harm Colorado’s communities and the work of our nonprofit sector. Renny Fagan, President and CEO, Colorado Nonprofit Association

Take Action

We encourage nonprofits to tell their stories to their members of Congress using the following message: 

The government shutdown reminded everyone that nonprofits are the foundation of our communities, working to build well-being every day. Don't undermine our communities; shutdowns are completely unacceptable and should never be an option. 

Visit our page to find contact information for your members of Congress

Contact Colorado's Members of Congress