Your View: Non-Profits Find A Way To Carry On

Written by Estefania Garcia

Non-profit organizations are used to doing a lot with limited resources. Relying on financial donations to function can be challenging in the best of times. Now, they face a situation where the need for their services is even greater while resources are stretched even thinner.

According to the United Way of Miami-Dade, more than half of local households, including more than 248,000 families with children, are struggling to meet their basic needs. To date, it has received more than 6,500 applications for emergency assistance with rent and mortgage payments, food and medication. As part of its emergency response, the organization partnered with local groups and restaurants to distribute 10,000 meals and supplies to families.

Feeding South Florida went from serving 700,000 meals to over 1 million. When volunteers were scarce, staff jumped in to prepare 10,000 food boxes in three days. Branches quadrupled the number of meals it typically provides to its families, and they were ready to provide virtual help to its students within 24 hours of schools closing.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade has experienced a higher volume of calls from parents inquiring about summer programs and when the clubs will re-open. As virtual schoolwork ends and parents go back to work, they need a safe space for their kids to be. At the same time, clubs will have reduced capacity when new guidelines are put in place.

As the need for service has increased, contributions are down. In fact, many non-profits had to cancel their biggest fundraisers of the year – typically, galas and other special events held from February to April – because they coincided with business shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders.

Nevertheless, non-profits have found ways and means to continue serving the people that rely on them the most.

When Branches had to cancel its gala, corporate partners converted their sponsorships to straight donations, and through a matching grant provided by Philanthropic Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, these and all gala donations will be matched dollar for dollar. Branches also turned a silent auction meant to take place at its gala into an online auction.

Even though the American Red Cross had to cancel two galas in Miami and Palm Beach, its corporate partners and vendors were flexible and about half of the donors still gave, so it wasn’t a total loss. But, with hurricane season starting on June 1, the Red Cross cannot take a break because revenue is diminished. It is already working with government officials to determine what shelters would look like and what the added costs could be.

Feeding South Florida had to postpone the 10th anniversary of its Outrun Hunger 5k until September. Although they got to keep the corporate sponsorships, they lost ticket sales revenue from 500-600 people who attend the event.

To help, state representatives and firefighters came up with a push up challenge to do 19 pushups for $19 and tag 19 friends on social media to do the same. Together with a matching grant from their leadership, they raised $25,000. When David Guetta played a concert in Brickell, it was one of four charities he chose to support. For every dollar donated, Feeding South Florida can provide 7 meals.

The United Way helps struggling families year-round, but when the pandemic hit, it activated Operation Helping Hands for emergency response. In collaboration with community funders, media and corporate partners, it raised $3.1 million for The Miami Pandemic Fund to aid individuals and small businesses.

Chapman Partnership launched a Support from Home campaign to fund enhanced services and emergency response to meet the urgent need of their resident families experiencing homelessness. To date they have raised $115,000. Volunteers can also help by sponsoring the cost of serving meals or by ordering essential supplies online and having them shipped directly to Chapman. And through their social media campaign #ChapmanVillage, they remind the community that “When it takes a village, we are the village.”

Understandably, there is concern among all of these organizations about long-term effects on giving. Despite these successful initial efforts to recoup losses, they still need the community’s help.

For now, everyone is doing as much as they can with what they have despite the uncertainty.

These organizations are vital to a community, making them more vibrant, inclusive and compassionate. That becomes more evident in times of crisis. No matter what service they provide, non-profits depend on support from the community to keep them operating. Now is when our community needs them the most. Now is when they need us the most.