As recovery efforts proceed and many of us return to business as usual, remember that for some of our neighbors, feelings of displacement and disorder are nothing new. While we extend a hand to areas still reeling from the storm, let’s also rededicate ourselves to helping the less fortunate right here.

Downed trees and wires are a visible reminder of work to be done, but the storm is not the only event putting extensive, often unseen pressure on our community’s support systems. The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s latest State of the Sector survey shows that nearly three quarters of the New Jersey nonprofits that provide “lifeline” support are seeing a greater need for their services than a year ago, and that over half will be unable to meet this increased demand.

Aggressive cuts to state and federal aid and contracts, along with the recession’s impact on corporate and individual giving, are putting nonprofits in the unsustainable position of doing much more with a lot less. The latest casualty of recessionary pressures is the United Way’s vital funding for roughly two-dozen local organizations that work together to provide family support, early education, and health interventions.

Adding to this perilous mix, Sandy has further disrupted fragile lives and stretched the capacity of nonprofits to help the people they serve so well.

In the coming weeks, you will receive many appeals in your mailbox. Please give, and give generously. Your help is urgently needed, so give what you can – and then give a bit more.

The nonprofit sector is not just a quick fix for immediate needs; it is an engine for recovery and growth. Today’s charitable donation is a sound investment in the long-term wellbeing of our communities.