The inflation of gas prices has been a hard hit on Americans who rely on vehicles for work, taking their children to school, or going to medical appointments. Not only do high gas prices affect individuals, but it affects businesses and nonprofits alike as well.
Increasing Gas Prices
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in January of 2020 (right before lockdown for Covid-19), the average gas price in California was $3.48 per gallon. Prices dipped to $2.77 per gallon by May 2020 due to the decrease in travel before increasing to $3.14 in December. In January 2021, gas prices averaged $3.26 per gallon, and by December 2021, the price per gallon was $4.59. At the start of the current year (2022), the cost of gas was $4.58 per gallon; the highest price (thus far) was in June, resulting in the cost per gallon being $6.29 per gallon. As of August 2022, the average price per gallon was $5.33.
With the average gas tank size being able to contain 13- to 31 gallons per tank (depending on Make and Model), filling up your car can take a shark-sized bite out of your budget. To fill up at August's rate in California, the average consumer can spend anywhere from $69.00-165.00 to fill up once. Depending on how much travel is required per individual, family, business, or nonprofits, the increased gas price has tightened budgets for paying other bills or putting food on the table.
The Effect of Politics in Combination with State Regulations
The United States Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has warned Americans that there may very well be an anticipated increase in gas prices once more while trying to assuage fears. "This winter, the European Union will cease, for the most part, buying Russian oil; in addition, they will ban the provision of services that enable Russia to ship oil by tanker.
Members of the G7 group of countries, including the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Italy, have agreed to turn away crude oil and petroleum of Russian origin that goes above the price cap.
California has its legislation and politicians that determine the price of gas distributed to the state as well. The state requires a specific blend of gas for its car emission standards while helping keep cleaner air and increasing gas prices. While well and good in intention, shipping the specified gas requires long wait times. Currently, 6 of the 12 oil refineries California relies on for gas production are undergoing maintenance (some planned and others not), tightening supply further.
Political parties have had disagreements on how best to help residents. Earlier this year, politicians voted not to suspend California's gas tax, which is 53.9 cents per gallon, instead of sending refund checks to individuals and families, ranging from $200.00 to $ 1050.00.
How Gas Prices Affect Nonprofits
Earlier this year in Louisville, KY, Vincent James (President and CEO of Dare Care Food Bank) voiced his concerns about gas prices and food inflation. "Are we going to be able to deliver the food that we need to our neighbors in need?' That's the biggest question that I have, and that's the one thing that keeps me up at night," He said in an interview. Dare to Care Food Bank receives food donations from large companies and pays for the freight delivery. The problem has become the cost, which has gone up by 40%; thus, increasing the fuel budget by $412,000.00 is unavoidable to ensure no one goes hungry.
The Program Manager of Meals on Wheels, a food delivery nonprofit for seniors, Marvita Starks, has also voiced her concerns. "…we try to keep the routes kind of small, but we can add more seniors if we have more volunteers. We try to give them routes closer to where they live," Starks stated. Meals on Wheels not only need volunteers for their food delivery but also asks for volunteers to help with communal sites to help with food distribution.
Often with volunteers who help with food delivery, the routes given can be quite large, meaning the volunteer is not just volunteering their time to help but also sacrificing their own gas and money to help others. There is a greater need for more volunteers to help shorten routes and increase the services provided, as well as volunteers who can work behind the scenes and help the nonprofits run smoothly.
The Council of Nonprofits states that 4 out of 5 nonprofits (79%) have reported that salary competition has impacted their hiring ability. It is tough to raise wages due to the lack of financial capacity, where every penny is accounted for. Unfortunately, government policies continue to contribute to the lack of resources and funds needed for many nonprofits.
Congress allowed the Charitable Giving Incentives to expire in 2021, failed to adjust reimbursement rates to reflect real-time costs, and prematurely repealed the ERTC (Employee Retention Tax Credit) that helped attract and retain staff. Without updating policies or enacting ways to help nonprofits and the public, it makes it extremely difficult for nonprofit organizations to remain open and afloat.
With increasing prices on gas, food, and the overall cost of living, it is a genuine possibility that nonprofits can close without proper funds or volunteers to help run much-needed services to the community. Tim Delaney, the President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, states, "All these things threaten the ability of nonprofits to serve people in their local communities… Policymakers at all levels of government are just assuming nonprofits make it work, but we can't. God Almighty, we try, but at a certain point, the laws of economics take over." Nonprofits that provide childcare, domestic violence shelters, health clinics, and prison reentry programs need funding to keep their doors open.
How You Can Help Student LunchBox
Similar issues are happening locally, with smaller nonprofits with no state or federal support to operate. Student LunchBox is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps provide college and university students with much-needed nutrition. You can help by making a one-time (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) donation to help out your local community. Want to send items from our wishlist? Anything helps to allow Student LunchBox to continue to provide services to fellow students in need.
Student Lunchbox was founded by Karlen Nurijanyan and is run by a team of like-minded individuals who strive to create lasting relationships with the local community. Consider volunteering to meet some great people and help a great cause.
Written By Alexandra Fink
Freelance Copywriter | Proofreader