20%     is the approximate decline in the Buckaroo Ball Foundation’s endowment since 2006.

89%      is the decline in the value of grants it made this year next to 2006

"It’s a huge risk. You’re asking people to pay a huge amount of money. A., they need to have a good time. And B., they need to not only buy the ticket but spend money at the auctions…[which] is where the serious money comes from."  —Frank O’Mahony, who will co-produce the 2010 Buckaroo Ball, on the decision to cancel this year’s fundraising event

On Sept. 24, the Buckaroo Ball Foundation announced $30,500 in grants to 13 Santa Fe County non-profits. That's as much as a single organization might have received in past years, when grants totaled several hundred thousand dollars.

Food Depot alone received $30,000 from the Buckaroos in 2003. This year, it was just one of the 13 groups sharing the decreased funds, even though its costs and demands have increased.

Foundation Chairwoman Barbara Damron tears up at the memory of the "profound appreciation" shown by grantees, despite the decreased funds."We didn't decide to cut back dramatically on grants this year," she says. "We had every intent of being able to fund our grants."

The Buckaroos, however, did not hold their namesake event this summer. "We cancelled the [2009] Ball because of the economy, the expenses of the Ball were getting higher," Damron says.

The Ball is not the Foundation's only revenue source. It has an endowment of "savings and temporary cash investments." Tax records show it was worth $1.3 million four years ago and $1.5 million at the end of last year. Damron says it now stands at $1.2 million.

Had the board dipped into the endowment, it would have cut its value by as much as 25 percent. Such a move is barred by the Foundation's bylaws, which the Board considered, but ultimately decided not to, revise. Damron says the Foundation has cut every expense, besides rent and telephone.

Director of Oncology Nursing at UNM Cancer Center and a state-level Republican, Damron says she hopes to change the Buckaroos' image. "We're no longer a group of wealthy women with time and money on our hands. We are a committee of professional working women. And we don't have deep pockets as the original Buckaroos did," Damron says. "I have Buckaroos whose husbands have lost their jobs, for example…they're still writing checks."