The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every area of our world, and the nonprofit sector is no exception. Charitable giving dropped significantly in the first weeks of the pandemic, creating funding shortfalls for thousands of nonprofits across the country. Additionally, numerous fundraising events have been canceled over the last few months, creating funding gaps for organizations who rely on fundraising events to generate significant revenue for their work. 

Although these realities seem bleak for nonprofits, there is still hope for sustainability. According to several surveys of donors, giving is again on the rise in the last two months. One survey found that 25% of donors plan to increase their giving, and 54% will maintain their giving levels. However, some donors are redirecting their giving to pandemic response efforts instead of organizations that they typically support (Fidelity Charitable, COVID-19 and philanthropy).

Nonprofits across the country are getting creative in their fundraising. Online platforms are being used more than ever before with even major fundraising events moving to a virtual setting. Special appeals focusing on the needs not only for direct response to COVID-19 but also for challenges resulting from the virus are also effective. While community needs are increasing and nonprofits are struggling to make ends meet in uncertain economic times, donors are also feeling the effects of the economic crisis. Thus, asking for support has become an increasingly difficult and sensitive task. 

Nonprofit consultant Alan Cantor notes, “In the coming weeks and months, successful requests for charitable donations will need to be embedded in a larger expression of mutual support, empathy, and solidarity.” 

Grantmakers are reaching out to grantees and other nonprofits directly to find out what organizations need and how they can best help meet those needs. Many foundations are responding to the crisis by releasing additional grant funding for pandemic response efforts, and allowing current grantees and applicants to make adjustments to their proposed activities to account for changes in programming as a result of COVID-19. Nonprofits should communicate regularly with grantmakers to keep them updated on changing needs of their clients and organization. Nonprofits are also eligible for relief programs at the federal and state level as CARES act funding is made available in the form of emergency grants through numerous agencies.

National and state organizations that promote and support nonprofits have compiled information on grant and funding resources as well as effective fundraising efforts to help organizations navigate the uncharted waters of seeking support during the COVID-19 crisis. Several of these are listed below.

Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits has a wealth of information and resources available on federal support available, grants and funds for nonprofits, and other resources to help organizations weather the crisis. https://www.oklahomacenterfornonprofits.org/resources/coronavirus-covid-19-resources-for-nonprofits/

Oklahoma Arts council resources and funding opportunities for arts organizations during the pandemic. https://arts.ok.gov/Oklahoma_Arts_Emergency_Resource_Page.htm

GrantSpace webinars on emergency fundraising, virtual events, and more grantspace.org.

Candid Funding for Coronavirus resources https://candid.org/explore-issues/coronavirus

Network for Good videos and articles on fundraising in crisis https://www.networkforgood.com/covid-19-resources/

Reach Rebecca Walkup at the Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Nonprofit Resource Center at (918) 683-4600 or rwalkup@nbn-nrc.org.

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