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In an Unsettled World, Pain, Uncertainty, and Innovation

In an Unsettled World,  Pain, Uncertainty, and Innovation 1

Nonprofits are being tested during the Covid-19 pandemic like never before. Few organizations went into the emergency with extensive reserves. Now, with fundraising events canceled, ticket sales gone, and contracts on hold, many organizations are struggling to survive financially.

Looking for a lifeline, charities are turning to loans, lines of credit, and emergency grants. Not all are getting what they need. Cornerstone Family Programs & Morristown Neighborhood House in New Jersey applied to its bank for a Paycheck Protection Program loan the day the federal program started. But the bank needed more information and didn’t submit the charity’s application before the first round of money was exhausted. Cornerstone had to furlough some employees and reduce the hours of others. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, the organization that publishes the Chronicle of Philanthropy, has received a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.)

Yet amid the pain and uncertainty, innovation abounds. Giving cash directly to people in need, an idea that’s been gaining traction over the past decade, has exploded in popularity during the crisis. And across the country, nonprofits have transformed their work — sometimes in a matter of days — to respond to urgent new needs in their communities.

The DC Dream Center usually provides mentoring and exercise classes. Now, the group is serving more than 200 meals a day in a neighborhood hit hard by job losses. “I am just stepping out in faith with the information I have now,” says Ernest Clover, the center’s executive director. “This is what I believe we should be doing.”

In the following articles, we show what nonprofits are doing and how leaders are coping.