special promotional section including food banks , have had to pivot on many fronts .”
Volunteers in California represent about half a million full-time jobs in the nonprofit sector . Their absence makes a big impact . Even food banks scrambled as their core volunteers — seniors — were the first advised to shelter in place . Also , unlike organizations able to move programming online , food cannot be distributed virtually , so food banks had to come up with creative delivery solutions like taking food distribution outdoors and using staff to try to fill volunteer gaps .
“ We put out a poll of nonprofits and two-thirds of respondents reported that they were still seeing disruptions from the pandemic and restrictions , especially organizations in education , health , and arts and culture ,” says Niva Flor , chief impact and strategy officer of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation , a philanthropic institution that manages charitable funds for families , businesses and nonprofits . “ Many arts organizations were the first to close because of pandemic protocol and will be some of the last to reopen .”
The SRCF ’ s poll confirmed that many organizations have had to lay off staff , limit hours , cut costs , tap into their reserves and pivot from in-person to online programming when possible . “ Some made that transition successfully and some struggled ,” Flor says . “ They had to get creative and sometimes embrace new models very quickly .”
Philanthropy and government funding helped nonprofits meet some of the more emergent needs at the start of the pandemic , with a lot of federal dollars coming into the region . “ The CARES Act money was key in helping nonprofits in that initial reactive recovery ,” Flor says . “ As those resources start to dry up , however , many folks are concerned about what the next frontier in terms of funding will look like .”
In part because of the uncertainty of the pandemic ’ s course , many organizations are leaning more heavily on grant funding rather than traditional fundraising events that require gathering in person . Flor says , “ There will be additional federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan
Act coming into the region that will be tremendously helpful with longer-term recoveries , as opposed to the CARES Act funding which was about immediate response with a strict timeline .”
Some organizations that had enough infrastructure and a track record of donors were able to pivot their fundraising events to the virtual environment with success . Tucker predicts we ’ ll be seeing indoor-outdoor events to cautiously resurrect the excitement of traditional in-person gala events combined with a continued virtual facet , as an online presence provides worldwide fundraising reach .
Strategies in Action The SRCF ’ s poll found that some nonprofits were meeting community needs by extending their services beyond their regular scope and that many smaller nonprofits were nimbler than larger ones . New projects and partnerships burgeoned , even if short-term . KidsFirst , a nonprofit organization in Placer County with a mission of treating and preventing child abuse and neglect through education , advocacy and counseling , has made the most of an impromptu solution .
“ An example of collaborating with the community as a whole happened at the start of the pandemic when we saw an immediate need for basic PPE supplies for clients along with food and hygiene items ,” says Antoinette Manuel , executive director of KidsFirst . “ While we typically have a few items on hand for emergency situations , we did not expect the volume of calls that we received from families requesting these items all at once .”
KidsFirst was able to quickly organize a donation drive and local businesses and community members dropped off supplies . “ We received so much that we turned our lobby into a pantry of sorts and started passing out bags of goods with staple items such as hand sanitizer , cleaning supplies , canned goods and toilet paper to families we were working with and our community partners as well ,” Manuel says . “ We were able to donate anything we had left over to the other community partners and local food banks .”
Sierra Donor Services , an organ procurement organization that helps make
We put out a poll of nonprofits and two-thirds of respondents reported that they were still seeing disruptions from the pandemic and restrictions , especially organizations in education , health , and arts and culture .
Niva Flor Chief Impact and Strategy Officer , Sacramento Region Community Foundation
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