Nonprofit organizations are in the unique position of having to provide support for the community while needing support from other parts of the community. A health crisis like COVID-19 is a major disruptor in the nonprofit world. This is a crucial time for nonprofit boards and managers to adapt their work environments and policies to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff and volunteers. The crisis is also creating a demand for nonprofits to provide programs and services beyond normal delivery.
Due to the need for social distancing and to comply with orders to stay at home, galas and other fundraising events have been cancelled which means that nonprofits are losing out on some of their largest donations. The lack of funding drains their finances and other resources which will likely have a long-term impact on their capacity to serve their communities in the coming months or years. As the demand for services is going up and the resources are going down, nonprofits are still needed to fill the gap in services that state and federal governments can’t provide on their own.
At this volatile time, there’s a greater than ever demand for food and basic essentials. There’s also a great need to focus on the safety and well-being of people and pets.
Demands Increase for Nonprofit Services While Financial Support Decreases
The demands for working parents are higher than ever. While many parents continue to work at essential jobs, schools and daycare centers are closed, so they’re not able to go to work. In poverty-stricken areas, many families rely on schools as a source of meals for their kids. The National School Lunch Program supplies approximately 29 million free or reduced lunches for children and many children would be subject to being undernourished without the benefit of programs like Feed the Children.
Not all workers have the option of working at home and large numbers of employees won’t have the necessary paid time off to sustain them for the length of stay at home orders which could last a month or longer.
Certain populations are at risk of contracting coronavirus including senior citizens, nursing home residents, people with certain other health conditions, and people with severe obesity.
Just when nonprofits need resources the most, they’re getting fewer donations and less help from volunteers as well as less financial support from the government. For example, food banks are not only facing fewer financial resources and an increase in demand for products, but they’re facing challenges with how to distribute food safely and find enough volunteers to help.
Nonprofits Spring into Action
Despite the reduced capacity, many nonprofits are doing their best to step up their efforts to meet the general public’s needs.
For example, Feeding America launched the COVID-19 Response Fund and deposited $2.65 million to meet the need for food. This nonprofit is creating and staging food boxes in the most vulnerable areas of the country. They’re working steadily to partner with supporters and partners to lead the conversation on how to address the immediate and long-term needs for the food supply for at-risk populations. No Kid Hungry is a nonprofit organization that keeps school administrators informed on how to keep meal programs running.
Miriam’s Kitchen is a Washington D.C. nonprofit that seeks to end chronic homelessness. For over 37 years, this group has been serving mostly older individuals with complicated health factors. They’ve tapped into their Emergency Flex Fund to get through the COVID-19 crisis. They’ve suspended the volunteer program for safety reasons, and they’ve reorganized staff to ensure continuous case management.
In Virginia, the Lorton Community Action Center has increased food rations and includes extra kids’ packs. Despite a decrease in donations, they’re also providing Clean Start kits that include hygiene and cleaning supplies. The group is taking extra precautions to keep clients, volunteers, and staff safe.
With several offices around the country, Operation Warm relies on outreach conferences to help them supply coats for kids. Demand for kids’ coats has been steadily going up and with conferences being cancelled the group is in need of donations.
Nonprofits Work Towards Health and Safety for People and Pets
The Red Cross provides a host of programs for our military personnel and their families, as well as many others. They’re well-equipped for emergencies, but they’re always in need of blood donors. With most people staying at home, we could be facing a critical shortage of blood supply.
People that already have suppressed immune systems are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. The pediatric patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital rely on Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House for lodging in meals when they visit their children who are receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses. This organization is limiting use of its volunteers and hiring more workers to clean and disinfect surfaces. They’ve resorted to preparing meals off premises to ensure wellness and safety. They’re currently in need of frozen meals in bulk and gift cards for families.
Safety is a big concern for women and children exposed to domestic violence. Reports from China that domestic violence incidents nearly tripled there have American nonprofits like PCADV in Pennsylvania stepping up efforts to guide its network of local domestic violence programs across the state on a daily basis.
So many people are worried about the COVID-19 crisis that they’re not thinking as much about pets that need homes. Pet shelters need people to step up and foster or adopt lonely dogs and cats at this time. Studies show that pets can help relieve the loneliness depression that accompanies isolation.
Nonprofits for the deaf community have been concerned about getting urgent, critical news about COVID-19 out to people that can’t hear. Most of the critical reports that the CDC and HHS put out are in English only and not accessible to those who speak another language including America Sign Language.
In conclusion, the burden for nonprofits is heavy at this time. Nonprofit boards are facing the tasks of keeping their staff and volunteers safe while doing their best to increase efforts during this time of dire need.
If you’re looking for a way to help while staying at home, America’s Charities has launched the America’s Charities Coronavirus Response Fund as a central place for single donations that support numerous charities.