Nonprofits fight to stay financially healthy during pandemic


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The ripple effects of COVD-19 have spread to nearly every business sector, including the nonprofit sector. As unemployment levels reach new heights, charitable giving has gone down. Organizations are working to stay healthy, so they can continue serving people across Alabama.

100 days ago, the Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama was forced to shut its doors. So, the organization decided to take its services outside the clubhouse.

“Pre COVID we served about 850 meals. Post COVID we’re serving 3,000 meals a day,” said Patrick Wynn, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama.

And this isn’t the only nonprofit seeing an increase in need. From March 13th, the day Governor Ivey issued the first COVID-19 health order, to Monday, June 22th, the 211 helplines across the state received more than 36,000 calls.

Among the top requests for assistance are housing and shelter, food, utilities, and healthcare.

Just to provide a frame a reference, in that same time period last year, the 211 dashboard reports a little over 25,000 calls for assistance. Leaders from the United Way of Madison County say about a third of people reaching out for help right now have never asked for it before.

“It is that group of people that lost their jobs or are being furloughed by COVID situations and have done everything they can but have not been able to get either a stimulus check or their unemployment,” said Cathy Miller, Community Impact Director, United Way of Madison County.

But in a time of greater need, nonprofits are also taking in fewer donations.

“What we’ve seen is many spring time events that were fundraisers, which is a piece of the revenue for local nonprofits has had to be cancelled because there is no safe way to do it,” Miller said.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama can’t hold its annual leaders and legends fundraiser in July.

“We count on that fundraiser each and every year to support all of the kid and families that we serve and so we know we’re going to be without at least 500,000 for that event,” Wynn said.

There are more than a dozen Boys & Girls Club organizations across the state that serve 77,000 young people annually. According to the Alabama Boys & Girls Club Alliance, they expect a total loss of more than $1.3 million due to COVID-19.

United Ways of Alabama depends on paycheck contributions for their donations. On average, about 55% of annual donations to United Ways across the state come from this type of charitable giving.
United Ways of Alabama executive director Becky Booker says due furloughs and layoffs related to COVID-19 — they have seen a decrease in those types of donations.

To make up for losses, nonprofits are not leaving any stone unturned on their hunt for resources.

“We’re applying for grants each and every day,” Wynn said.

And relying on a little faith to get through this unprecedented time.

“I believe in God and you know we pray a lot,” Wynn said.

United Ways of Alabama serves nearly one thousand nonprofits across the state. Leaders from the organization worry about how the decrease in charitable giving could affect the smaller nonprofits they support.

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