By Velda Addison, Hart Energy

Tough financial times in the oil and gas industry are unfortunately trickling down to nonprofit organizations that rely heavily on its donations.

As the oil and gas sector itself lets go of employees in droves in addition to slowing down activity and postponing some major projects to salvage budgets, some companies are doling out less money to charities. The plights of a few Houston-area organizations were featured March 5 in the Houston Chronicle.

“We have lost some of our major donors, or they may have scaled back significantly,” Kristi Okwuonu, executive director of the Pink Ribbons Project—which promotes early screening for breast cancer and research—told the Chronicle. “Where they gave us $30,000 before, they may only be able to give us $3,000. That happening multiple times made us take a hard look at our sustainability. Do we want to push through and have the potential to struggle every year? We never wanted there to be a question of whether we were good stewards of our donors’ money.”

The small organization ultimately decided to stop operating in May.

Others have been more fortunate, at least for now. That was the case for Don Sweat, who heads a residential program for abused, abandoned and neglected children.

“We had our largest corporate contributor say, essentially, ‘King’s X, I can’t do it anymore,’ so we are slimming down and laying off people and cutting costs,” Sweat said in the Houston Chronicle article. “He did come back six months later and make a sizable donation. But it’s like that across the board. No one knows what the future will be.”

But charities of all sizes are feeling the impact, including the United Way which receives many donations directly from employee payroll deductions during its annual drive.

Despite the tough times, oil and gas companies should continue donating to charitable causes, especially if they are still making profits (albeit substantially less than in previous years) and paying top-level executives millions of dollars. Even if contributions are not as high as in previous years, every little bit helps.

The ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) is a good example. In an ExxonMobil Perspectives post online, the company shared some good news about its citizenship activities to fight malaria worldwide. As of 2015, the company’s initiative—which included work with partners—totaled about 14 million bed nets, more than 2.5 million diagnostic tests and nearly 1.4 million treatments.

“To date, more than 520,000 health workers have been trained. Since 2000, these and other efforts with our partners have reached more than 125 million people through malaria prevention, treatment, and research programs,” according to the article.

The company’s commitment should be commended. To those who continue to give, kudos, many thanks and keep on giving.

Velda Addison can be reached at