Role of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Providing Relief and Recovery Services After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Cost of Providing Services

12/20/2008

Obtaining information from survey respondents on the cost of providing services was difficult. More than a third of respondents (36 percent) did not know how much was spent, did not keep records, or refused to indicate an amount. Of those that provided information, the median expenditure was about $6,700 (Table 23). Secular nonprofits spent somewhat more than faith-based groups ($7,500 versus $6,100, respectively), and FBCOs in the directly hit areas reported the largest median expenditure ($10,000). About 10 percent of secular nonprofits in the survey reported spending more than $1 million.

Table 23.
Amount Spent on Relief Services
Characteristic N Percent of Organizations with Relief Budgets of: Median budget
Less than $500 $500 to $2,500 $2,500 to $5,000 $5k to $10k $10k to $50k $50k to $100k $100k to $500k $500k to $1 m More than $1 m
All respondents 130 13.8 14.6 18.5 9.2 22.3 5.4 9.2 2.3 4.6 $6,667
                       
Faith-based organization* 75 10.7 14.7 22.7 9.3 24.0 8.0 6.7 4.0 0.0 $6,071
Secular nonprofit* 55 18.2 14.5 12.7 9.1 20.0 1.8 12.7 0.0 10.9 $7,500
                       
Louisiana  72 15.3 12.5 19.4 6.9 27.8 4.2 8.3 1.4 4.2 $7,000 
Mississippi 50 14.0 16.0 18.0 10.0 14.0 6.0 12.0 4.0 6.0 $6,000
Houston, TX 8 0.0 25.0 12.5 25.0 25.0 12.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 $7,500
                       
Primary impact area  48 16.7 8.3 14.6 10.4 20.8 4.2 14.6 6.3 4.2 $10,000 
Adjacent to impact 47 19.1 12.8 17.0 6.4 27.7 4.3 6.4 0.0 6.4 $5,833
Farthest from impact 35 2.9 25.7 25.7 11.4 17.1 8.6 5.7 0.0 2.9 $4,583
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Data are missing 72 respondents.
* Difference significant at 0.05 level.

When asked about the sources of financial support for their relief and recovery efforts, many respondents (about 38 percent) were unable to answer these questions. However, based on those who did respond, most (72 percent) received donations from individuals (Table 24). The next most common source of financial support was from faith-based organizations (45 percent) and nonprofit organizations such as the United Way and Red Cross (39 percent).

As Table 24 also illustrates, there were statistically significant differences in the sources of financial support for faith-based and secular nonprofits. A greater percentage of faith-based groups than secular nonprofits received donations from individuals and other faith-based organizations, while a larger share of secular nonprofits got financial support from other nonprofits, private foundations, and government. Secular nonprofits were about four times more likely than faith-based groups to have received financial support from the federal government and about 3.5 times more likely to have received support from state and local governments. These data suggest that secular nonprofits may have more capacity to work with government and meet requirements that accompany the receipt of public dollars. Survey respondents in the directly impacted areas were more likely than those in other areas to receive support from faith-based groups and nonprofit groups. There were no statistically significant differences in the sources of financial support when the data were controlled for state.

Table 24.
Sources of Financial Support for Relief Services
Characteristic N Percent of Organizations That Received Financial Support from:
Individuals Faith-based
organization
Secular
nonprofit
Business Private
foundation
Federal
govt
State/local
govt
Other
All respondents 125 72.0 44.8 39.2 31.2 19.2 15.2 14.4 8.0
                   
Faith-based organization 74 82.4** 55.4** 24.3** 25.7 10.8** 6.8** 6.8** 5.4
Secular nonprofit 51 56.9** 29.4** 60.8** 39.2 31.4** 27.5** 25.5** 11.8
                   
Louisiana 57 70.2 38.6 36.8 33.3 17.5 15.8 15.8 10.5
Mississippi 58 70.7 50.0 44.8 27.6 20.7 15.5 13.8 6.9
Houston, TX 10 90.0 50.0 20.0 40.0 20.0 10.0 10.0 0.0
                   
Primary impact area 56 71.4 62.5** 57.1** 26.8 25.0 21.4 17.9 5.4
Adjacent to impact 41 68.3 24.4** 26.8** 39.0 17.1 9.8 14.6 14.6
Farthest from impact 28 78.6 39.3** 21.4** 28.6 10.7 10.7 7.1 3.6
Source: Urban Institute 200708 Survey of FBCOs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Houston.
Note: Analysis based on respondents that reported amount spent and sources of support.
** Difference significant at 0.01 level.

Most FBCOs in the survey delivered relief services without direct financial support from government. Only 18 respondents said that they applied for reimbursement from the federal or state government, and most of these (11) were larger organizations with budgets over $500,000. The reimbursement requests were primarily directed at FEMA or other federal agencies (11 of 18 respondents).

Of the 18 FBCOs that applied for public funds, most said that the application process was very difficult (nine) or somewhat difficult (four). Only four respondents described the process as very easy or somewhat easy. When asked why the process was difficult, typical responses included the application process was unclear; takes a lot of paperwork and time to get it done; we lost all of the records [in the storm] so not able to collect because [the records were] not recovered; and a lot of things they asked for werent told to [us] in advance, but after it had already been done. Eleven of the 18 applicants received some reimbursement for their services. The others had been waiting two or more years to receive payment. It is unknown how many FBCOs chose not to apply for reimbursement because of the presumed difficulties of the process or because they were able to use other resources.

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