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Focus on the Family cuts 200 jobs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–Focus on the Family is cutting 202 jobs as economic hardships threaten to reduce the charitable donations that comprise 95 percent of the nonprofit ministry’s income.

The announcement was made at a news conference Nov. 17, marking the most serious reduction in the 32-year-history of the pro-family organization founded by James Dobson. The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colo., where Focus is based, reported that the ministry is laying off 149 workers and cutting another 53 vacant positions, reducing the total number of employees from about 1,150 to 950.

“Looking at October trends and talking to donors who are not in a position where they can give, we thought we’d be facing a more severe decision in January or February if we waited,” Glenn Williams, Focus’ chief operating officer, said at the news conference, according to The Gazette.

Focus also has reduced its budget from $160 million in 2008 to $138 million for the coming year, anticipating more drastic effects from the economic downturn.

A Colorado Springs economic expert told the newspaper that when people have to cut back their spending, “the only place they have to go is their discretionary income.” In turn, nonprofits such as Focus suffer.

The job cuts are taking place throughout the organization, The Gazette noted, but the most visible change will be the elimination of the print editions of four of its eight magazines — Plugged In, Breakaway, Brio and Brio & Beyond. The content for each will be revamped online.

“There’s still a great demand for the resources we offer,” Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus, told Religion News Service. “It’s simply a fact that the economy is affecting our donors and, therefore, affecting us.”

Schneeberger said all of the job cuts are related to Focus on the Family, not its political arm, Focus on the Family Action.

Though Focus often makes national headlines for its political involvement, the ministry spends only 6 percent of its budget in that area. The rest is devoted to parenting and marital advice through Dobson’s radio broadcasts as well as books, magazines and websites, The Gazette said.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Mike Kazmierski, president of Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., told the newspaper. “In the case of Focus, we believe it’s part of the economy, and as the economy recovers we expect a lot of those jobs to come back.”
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

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