DARIEN — Since the beginning of the year, proposed state budget cuts have loomed over everyone in the state. Nearly no sector has been safe from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s cuts and that includes nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping those in need.

Although the state budget has yet to be finalized, worries about the cuts to nonprofits have trickled down to Darien and The Community Fund of Darien, which awarded over $700,000 in grants last year to local nonprofits, has seen a spike in requests for funding.

“What we’ve seen with the state budget crisis is nonprofits often get cut,” said Community Fund Executive Director Carrie Bernier. “Many of the nonprofits we fund got big cuts and we got an unprecedented number of grant requests. We found our fundraising is down, too.”

The Community Fund is trying to raise around $168,000 in about six weeks to help these organizations in need of grants. The ultimate goal is to help them help the community.

“It’s rough,” said Community Fund Director of Development Kate Hough. “While fundraising is down, nonprofits also need our help more than ever.”

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For more information on the Community Fund or to contribute, visit communityfunddarien.org.

While only about 1,000 people are reported to live below the poverty line in Darien, the Community Fund is committed to raising money for grants that help organizations assisting with the basic needs for those in Darien, as well as in neighboring Stamford and Norwalk. In addition to giving grants to nonprofits providing people with basic needs, the Community Fund also awards grants to organizations that help with self sufficiency and youth success.

And while not all of the groups receiving grants are in Darien, many offer services that aren’t available in town. Nonprofits like The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis and Education in Stamford and the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Norwalk provide for Darien residents while also affording them the anonymity of seeking help for these personal matters outside of their small community.

“A lot of people hurting fly under the radar,” Bernier said. “People hide it because they’re embarrassed...But there are immense needs.

“We’re lucky to be in an incredible community, but we’re surrounded by two communities in crisis,” the executive director added. “We feel it strengthens all of us to take care of our neighbors. It’s not just being good neighbors, but Darien is better when we take care of our neighbors.”

The Community Fund uses an extreme vetting process to decide which organizations are in need of their grants, funded by community donations. A board of volunteers sorts through the applications received and analyzes the groups to make sure the funds are being used well. In the past, the Community Fund has cut off organizations they feel were not using their grants well. Unfortunately, they found this year there are more worthy applicants than ever looking for help.

“We consider where we can cut. We found instead of wanting to cut, there are more needs that need to be met,” Bernier said. “We don’t waste a dollar. These are critical services.”

In order to get the money they need by June 30, the end of the fiscal year, the Community Fund is doing a fundraising push in their spring newsletter and on social media. They’re also sending out mailings to people in town, hoping those who’ve donated in the past will consider donating again.

“There’s a misconception we’re fine,” said Hough. “We want to be up front. We need more help and we’re a community. We need all hands on deck.”

To encourage donation, the fund has broken down their group needs into three categories — basic, self sufficiency and youth success — and they will be tracking those smaller goals.

“If people feel it’s a tangible goal and they’re part of something bigger, they’re more likely to give,” the director of development said. “This is a new tactic to get people involved.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata