Audubon employees donate to own non-profit in hard times

Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:52am EDT
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters) - Times are tough for U.S. non-profit organizations, so tough that some employees at one are donating their own money to help stave off layoffs and keep their projects going.

Employees at the National Audubon Society, an environmental group dedicated to habitat conservation, have pledged about $800,000 through voluntary payroll deductions in an internal donation drive to help see it through the recession.

Like many non-profits, Audubon has been squeezed by the severity of the economic downturn.

"We have frozen salaries for 2009 and 2010 and we anticipate that there will be cuts in other places, including layoffs," said Phil Kavits, Audubon's spokesman.

"Staff knows that there will likely be layoffs and/or furloughs soon, yet collectively, they have responded with pledges," he said.

Audubon employs about 700 people and Kavits said that 154 employees had so far donated through payroll deductions, which are kept anonymous.

Non-profits are often staffed by activists passionate about their cause so this behavior is unlikely to be repeated in many other places.

"We depend on the support of our donors and in this time of recession ... it is all the more important for us to make a compelling case as to why a foundation or individual should give to Audubon instead of anybody else," Audubon president John Flicker said in an interview.   Continued...

<p>Bird watchers in a file photo. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman</p>