On New Year’s Eve, staff members of the Group for the East End packed up their Main Street, Bridgehampton office and headed to the North Fork. The non-profit organization, which works to protect and restore the natural environment through education, citizen action and public advocacy, has been operating out of its Southold office since its lease in Bridgehampton ended on January 1, according to the organization’s president, Bob DeLuca.
Mr. DeLuca said he decided not to renew the lease in Bridgehampton in an attempt to cut costs and devote more funds to programming.
“I feel very blessed to have the support that we do, but we need to be really smart with how money is spent and how we look at every dime,” he said on Tuesday, noting that there were fewer staff members working at the office than in recent years. “It made sense to evaluate and funnel more money into programs.”
Since the economy took a hit in 2008, Mr. DeLuca said he has noticed a considerable change in the number of donations received. The “erratic” nature of fundraising makes it difficult for the Group to predict its yearly budget, which has been operating between $1.4 million and $1.7 million for the last three or four years, he said.
Instead of putting a large chunk of its budget—typically $15,000 to $19,000 including rent and utility bills each year—toward the Bridgehampton office, Mr. DeLuca said the Group wants to devote the money it saves from not operating the Bridgehampton office to its education program and its educators. He said the organization usually underwrites a good portion of its education programs, including outings, outreach information sessions and visits to area schools, and there has been an “influx of interest” in adding more educators to the programs.
“We have to make sure we’re as responsive to the mission as we can be,” he added. “The upside of being a nonprofit, grass roots organization is that we have the flexibility to move more fluidly and change our dynamic. We can work out of different places because we’re not a huge institution.”
Currently Group for the East End has 11 full-time employees including Mr. DeLuca, and has had a Bridgehampton location since it was founded in 1972 as Group for America’s South Fork. In 2008, it changed its name, opened its Southold office and downsized its Main Street Bridgehampton office.
Mr. DeLuca said he doesn’t suspect the change will affect the Group’s work on the South Fork.
“I’m on the South Fork more than I’m here,” he said from the Southold office. “We’re pretty mobile. We circumnavigate pretty well.”