Non-Profit Agencies Cash-Strapped In Fixing Y2K Problems : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Non-Profit Agencies Cash-Strapped In Fixing Y2K Problems

More dominoes, within dominoes. -- Diane

Social service agencies scrambling to fix Y2K problem

ROBIN ESTRIN, Associated Press Writer Saturday, January 9, 1999


(01-09) 01:07 PST BOSTON (AP) -- Big business and government may be well on their way toward fixing the so-called Y2K computer bug. But it's likely to be a bumpier ride for cash-strapped nonprofit agencies -- which provide everything from food for needy children to shelter for battered women.

``There's no extra money to give to this,'' said Marian Heard, president of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

Even though they usually operate on far smaller budgets, nonprofits face many of the same technological obstacles that large banks and insurance companies do: If their computers fail, they lose their ability to pay staff and keep track of clients.

Fixing the Y2K bug -- a software glitch that threatens to crash some computers at the dawn of the year 2000 -- is especially daunting for smaller nonprofits.

In many cases, their computer systems were purchased years ago on a shoestring budget. Short on funds, they now don't have the luxury of hiring a technology specialist to see if their outdated system is at risk.

``They worry about putting this whole Y2K issue of compliance on top of an already stressed system,'' said Dan McDougal, director of the Southeastern Michigan Information Center, an arm of the Detroit area United Way. ``Most nonprofits are overworked already serving the people they have to serve.''

Detroit has already hosted three workshops for area nonprofits on Y2K, and produced a brochure with help from Ford Motor Co. to distribute to social service agencies.

In San Francisco, nonprofit administrators ``just keep hearing about this Y2K thing and they're not quite sure what it is,'' said John Halpin, who coordinates technology issues for the United Way of the Bay Area.

The story is the same in Massachusetts, where a recent United Way survey of 100 nonprofits found that 87 of them have not yet readied their computers for the next century.

As agencies begin confronting the problem, it's possible there could be a ripple effect in services as money that could have gone toward staff raises is funneled into technology, said Christopher O'Keefe, director of community investments for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

But O'Keefe added that most nonprofits are fiercely unwilling to reduce services.

``Most of our organizations will cut off their arm before they cut their programs,'' he said.

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 10, 1999


``Most of our organizations will cut off their arm before they cut their programs,''. . .

And, that's exactly what they'll be doing if they don't find a way to fix their Y2K problems.

Didn't these folks ever hear the saying that, "A half a loaf is better than none"?

-- Hardliner (, January 10, 1999.

Diane, You are good at getting and passing on information. There is a guy called Alan Simpson with a site devoted to connecting programmers willing to donate some of their time and expertise with non-profit organizations in their area. Here is the link:

-- Maria (, January 10, 1999.

Thanks Maria. So noted.


(Anyone else on overwhelm?)

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 11, 1999.

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