There’s no doubting the human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that experts fear is approaching a second wave. However, while the virus has had impacts on people and their livelihoods, it has also hurt non-profits that are designed to help those in need, says Ash Gujral of San Francisco, California, who founded the Gujral Community Fund.
There are several challenges, but two main ones when it comes to charities operating during this time. One of them is changing protocols to allow safer delivery of services while still being effective, while the other entails collecting enough donations to keep going.
More Need, Same or Fewer Resources
The demand on charities has increased in many cases, while the amount of donations has stagnated, explains Ash Gujral. In fact, a survey from May shows that about 75% of the non-profits are facing more pressure to provide services, while about half of the respondents have already seen a loss of support or anticipated one.
Just as an example, the SF-Marin Food Bank is an important non-profit in San Francisco that helps more than 200,000 people annually. The food bank now says it is facing “an unprecedented challenge to support our neighbors” to help those that regularly rely on the service, as well as those who now find themselves without a steady income.
In response to the need and to help reduce exposure that can raise risk of virus transmission, the food bank has been stepping up its deliveries to seniors (about 12,000 of them) who are unable to leave their premises. While many of the most vulnerable have been unable to access the food bank’s pantry services, it launched “pop-up food pantries” aimed at reaching those with limited access due to COVID-19, with a drive-through model in place.
Some of the other charities supported by the Gujral Community Fund including the Pomeroy Recreation & Rehabilitation Center had to change how to deliver services. The non-profit, which aims to provide opportunities for disabled individuals, had to temporarily close down a therapeutic pool, with a plan for reserving space upon re-opening.
Some other charities have had to limit the number of volunteers to allow for safe distancing while still trying to meet demand.
While many non-profits are seeing their revenues drop, their ability to host fundraisers was compromised near the beginning of the pandemic. For example, notes Ash Gujral, a major charity in the area, Housing Trust Silicon Valley, had to cancel its biggest event of the year in March due to coronavirus guidelines that didn’t allow gathering at the venue, the Santa Clara Convention Center. That restriction cost the charity well over $300,000 in expected donations.
The Housing Trust has a mandate to create affordable housing in San Francisco, which is in line with the efforts of the Gujral Community Fund to keep families in the city through supporting organizations such as Habitat For Humanity.
Ash Gujral Suggests Ways to Help
While non-profits struggle to keep their heads above water during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are ways for people to help, says Ash Gujral. He suggests organizing a virtual fundraiser to support your favorite charities, or register to become a monthly donor.
But equally importantly, he says, is to help charities spread the word about their importance to the community, and to give your time — even if it’s not in person — to help them with administrative tasks. Helping non-profits is vitally important during COVID-19 that has increased the need for charities to help others.