As in all aspects of our community life, the COVID-19 virus is having a significant effect on our local nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits that hold large conferences, conduct in-person fundraising events, or provide direct services or training are looking at all their options. Those nonprofits that provide services to populations who are most at risk of acquiring the virus are facing unusual challenges in serving our community.

Steve Hayes, director of the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium, said that both large and small nonprofits are examining alternative actions during the pandemic. Many conversations about sustainability have turned into communication about survivability. Hayes said that as many as 53% of our local nonprofits have less than three months of resources on hand while the bigger nonprofits are considering their debt management strategy.

Most nonprofits are examining their financial situation as well facing difficult decisions regarding what to do about staffing.

The initial responses to the pandemic have varied by type of organization with the focus on how to best serve the needs of community members while also considering the safety and protection for the whole community. As we know, arts and culture organizations, educational institutions and other community organizations have closed their doors for extended periods while several social service organizations continue to operate, balancing constituent service with social distancing.

One constant across the sector was the need to cancel program offerings and fundraising events, and the disruption to any development plans. Many of our local nonprofits are struggling to maintain operations.

Gin Reid, director of Greensboro Urban Ministry’s Partnership Village (PV) housing complex, said that they are doing whatever possible to keep their community informed about the virus and the subsequent changes in the services available.

“It is very important that our PV community is educated about this serious situation and focuses on staying calm and responding with reason,” Hall said. Partnership Village closed its doors to walk-ins and has suspended all group activities, meetings, and events.

“We continue to offer case management services by appointment (either in person or on the telephone) and will offer career and financial coaching via telephone,” Hall said.

Partnership Village moved their Friday food delivery to outside and are practicing “physical distancing” in order to distribute the food as safely as possible.

Nancy Micca, executive director for The Family Support Network of Central Carolina, said most part-time staff are now working predominantly from home.

“Currently, we are trying to provide the emotional connection, support and help with resources by reaching out to check on the families we serve by phone and using video technology,” Micca said. They offer four parent group meetings via Zoom, and have increased their support for siblings and check in with them weekly.

Tina Markanda, executive director for The Foundation for a Healthy High Point, said that while our community has survived various disastrous situations, no one could have imagined we would be facing such a crisis, like COVID-19.

“Many of our local nonprofits are filling the gap by helping those in need while also advocating for the voiceless amongst us,” she said. “As a result, nonprofits are experiencing a strain on their human and financial capacity by stretching limited resources to do more with less.” Markanda’s strongest recommendation is to donate to a local nonprofit today.

David Fraccaro, executive director for FaithAction International House said that while they have closed FaithAction International House to the public, their work to serve, love and protect our newest neighbors remains the same each day.

“Most of our cases we can handle temporarily by phone and email, and we have safe and efficient emergency procedures in place for when families are facing homelessness, domestic violence, detention/deportation, health concerns and food shortages,” Fraccaro said. He also expressed gratitude to all of FaithAction’s community volunteers and partners, who are helping in three primary ways: donating and delivering food/diapers; providing emergency rides for clients; and providing emergency funds to clients in financial need.

“With their help, we will weather this terrible storm and get through this together.” Fraccaro said.

Music Academy of North Carolina has moved classes online. Woody Faulkner, MANC faculty member said: “The feeling that I have come away with in this first week of online teaching is, how important it is for our students to feel a sense of continuity in the learning experience they have come to expect and enjoy from their teachers while belonging to the MANC community.”

Faulkner said students have embraced remote learning via video easily. “It is evident to me that the joy of making music in the most trying of times is going to be one of the things that we will long remember, and it will give us a reason to say, we are still here,” Faulkner said.

Hayes said that during these uncertain times in the nonprofit world, the most important skills for nonprofit leaders are a flexible and adaptive leadership. “People in nonprofits are mission driven and have integrity and as such have tremendous resources to bring to this pandemic in our community,” Hayes said.

Markanda expressed hope as well: “We (in our local nonprofit sector) are collaborating on common responses, we are serving in our community as partners, and we are laying the groundwork for policy change after the crisis subsides.”

Pamela Palmer, assistant professor, High Point University, Nonprofit Leadership and Management, said: “The days ahead will be unlike any that we could have imagined, but with the collaboration of the public and private sectors, including an innovative and resourceful nonprofit sector, new and impactful solutions which will positively affect individuals and communities will be created.”

Contact Ruth D. Anderson, Ph.D., by email at ruth@secondbreathcenter.com.

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