updated 6/9/2007 10:39:09 PM ET 2007-06-10T02:39:09

The NAACP said it is cutting about 40 percent of its national staff and closing, at least temporarily, its seven regional offices to cover three years of budget shortfalls.

The civil rights group will reduce its staff from 119 to 70 through layoffs and attrition to avoid draining more of its shrinking reserves, interim president and chief executive officer Dennis Hayes said. The Baltimore headquarters will remain open and still offer services provided by the regional offices, he said.

“We are right-sizing our organization to meet present circumstances,” Hayes told The Baltimore Sun for an article published Thursday.

“We had the unexpected departure of our CEO at a time when we were already without a chief development officer. So, understandably, we have to regenerate our revenue machine, our fundraising machine, to get us to where we should have been,” Hayes said.

Bruce Gordon quit as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s president and CEO in March after 19 months on the job.

The NAACP has used about $10 million in reserve funds to cover shortfalls over the past three years, Hayes said. He declined to say how much is left in the fund.

Hayes gave several reasons for the budget shortfall.

“Gas is more expensive, the cost of living is higher, people are not giving as much as they used to,” he said. “And membership, we always need more members. Our impression is we can improve and enhance the way we do things.”

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