GEORGIA — The COVID-19 pandemic essentially severed many area nonprofits from their main sources of financial donations and volunteer’s support.
“The pandemic has been hard on the Chattahoochee Nature Center as two-thirds of our income is from earned revenue (ticket sales, program fees, rentals),” said Nature Center Senior Director of Development and Marketing DeAnn Fordham. “Closing to the public on March 17 devastated our operations.”
Area nonprofits have found themselves cancelling major fundraisers and moving operations online. Some have questioned if adapting to the new normal is even possible.
“Will people be able to continue to support nonprofit animal shelters?” asked Samantha Shelton, CEO and founder of Furkids Animal Rescue and Shelter in an early April interview. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
In response to the unprecedented events and need, the national GivingTuesday nonprofit organized its first #GivingTuesdayNow campaign modeled after its annual campaign held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
The new event, held May 5, acted as an extra #GivingTuesday to help nonprofits weather the effects of the pandemic.
The generosity of local citizens has exceeded expectations for some nonprofits, including The Place of Forsyth County, which provides emergency financial assistance and support services for those in need.
“As we have been so focused on food distribution, we did not have opportunity to put much time towards planning for Giving Tuesday [in the past],” said Jacob J. Granados, director of Purposeful Engagement at The Place. “A little less than a week before Giving Tuesday Now, our insurance broker Ed Gillman (Gillman Insurance Problem Solvers) offered us a $1,250 matching grant for Giving Tuesday. We put the word out to donors, volunteers, friends, and supporters were able to turn that matching fund into $43,200. In the end, we were able to raise over $85,500.”
The financial assistance was sorely needed. Granados said that since March 16, the number of first-time visitors to their pantry has increased by more than 500 percent, and the number of families they typically serve has doubled.
The Chattahoochee Nature Center reported that it earned $18,000 from the #GivingTuesdayNow campaign, almost double of what it usually receives from #GivingTuesday. It has also moved several of its fundraisers online, including the annual Water Drop Dash 5K, which raised $40,000, and its annual bird seed sale, which also netted $40,000.
Its spring break camp was also conducted online, and the center is now offering free virtual field trips and education modules for teachers.
The Drake House, which serves women and children experiencing homelessness, has received almost double what it usually receives from the #GivingTuesday campaign. On May 5, donors exceeded the organization’s goal with about $20,000 in donations.
The Johns Creek Art Center, which provides art enrichment classes to the children at The Drake House, aided in these donation efforts by urging its patrons to give to The Drake House on May 5.
“The Roswell community has once again gone above and beyond to meet the physical needs of The Drake House during this crisis,” said Kimberly Jackson, director of Volunteer Engagement for The Drake House. “We will use these funds to supplement our programming needs in the days and weeks ahead… At this time, our biggest need is for personal protective equipment, including face masks, and will happily accept hand-made ones too.”
Nonprofits are still accepting donations, which can be made online.