(Image: H.T. Yu, Creative Commons)

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked havoc on just about every corner of the economy. The nonprofit sector has been hit particularly hard, as major sources of revenue—including performance seasons and fundraising galas—have either been postponed, cancelled, or reduced in scope.

A recent survey projects that first quarter individual giving in 2020 has fallen by a staggering 6 percent, amounting to $25 billion in losses for U.S. nonprofits.

Across the nation, relief funds have popped up to help support nonprofits struggling to keep their doors open. While federal and state governments have provided some assistance such as payroll relief, many nonprofits face insurmountable odds in the coming months as they burn through their cash reserves.

There are some promising signs, including the explosion of individual giving in the wake of mass protests against racial injustice. Organizations working on criminal justice reform and fighting to end structural racism have seen an incredible surge in support. The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which helps individuals who cannot pay bail, raised more than $20 million alone.

While second quarter fundraising will certainly increase as a result of these developments, the influx of individual donations will primarily benefit social justice organizations. Now more than ever, the nonprofit sector requires robust support from all levels of government. If elected leaders don’t take action soon, vital arts and basic needs organizations will face closure, further destabilizing lives and threatening the well-being of people across the nation during this fraught and uncertain time.


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