Tough Times for Charities

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‘Tis the season for giving and good cheer. And while that may be true, many non-profit agencies in southern Colorado are struggling to make ends meet and pooling resources to survive.

Because of tough financial times, the Better Business Bureau in Pueblo and Colorado Springs are merging, effective January 1st. That means the Pueblo office will close its doors and all operations will move to Colorado Springs.

For the last few years, the Better Business Bureau in Pueblo has been struggling financially. Memberships have been on the decline. For months, the directors looked for ways to solve the problem. But in the end, a merger was considered the best option. "It's just like any other business or non-profit. It's difficult these days. We felt we could bring more benefits this way," says Carol Odell with the Colorado Springs BBB.

Odell says Pueblo businesses will now get more exposure because of an improved website, and customer complaints will be handled more quickly.

The American Red Cross has offices in both Colorado Springs and Pueblo. But since August, the Pikes Peak chapter has been doing everything it can to help its sister chapter in Pueblo.

To pay off debt, the Red Cross building in Pueblo was sold earlier this year and six employees were laid-off. The remaining staff will move into donated space next month. "There's real difficulty in raising money necessary to make these offices run," says Pikes Peak Red Cross spokesperson Ann Carlisle-Holcomb. She says donations are down and many agencies are feeling the pinch. "People are still giving, but at about 30 percent of what they used to."

The Red Cross has been receiving donations during this Christmas season. The director is hoping that if the economy continues to improve, charitable giving will also go up.