Charities Set $166-Billion Worth of Construction Plans on Hold

Feb 2009 - By Brennen Jensen

Nonprofit organizations in the United States have an estimated $166-billion worth of construction and renovation projects on hold because of the economic downturn, according to a survey released today.

The report found that 40 percent of 1,837 organizations surveyed had projects stalled for financial reasons that were “shovel ready,” meaning they had been designed and were ready for bidding, with construction able to start within 90 days after contracts were awarded.

The survey aims to call attention to the “backlog of worthy, job-producing infrastructure projects” among the nation’s nonprofit groups now that Congress has passed an economic-stimulus bill.

It was conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies, in Baltimore, as part of the Nonprofit Listening Post Project, a research effort examining the issues facing nonprofit groups.

Four Types

The organizations surveyed were drawn largely from four broad categories: children and family services, elderly services and housing, community development, and the arts. Collectively they reported a total of over $10-billion in projects on hold because of money challenges presented by current economic conditions.

Based on the survey results, and after excluding nonprofit hospitals and higher education institutions from consideration, Listening Post researchers estimated that $166-billion in charity construction projects are stalled nationwide.

Two-thirds of the more than 1,000 projects charities reported putting on hold were renovation efforts, while a third were new construction projects. Museums reported the highest rate of stalled projects, with 64 percent of such organizations reporting that they had construction work on hold.

More than 12 percent of the charities surveyed had multiple projects on hold, and 44 percent reported having less-developed projects that they were unable to make “shovel-ready” because of the economy.

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