Opportunities and Challenges for Non-Profits Presented by the Pandemic

Businesses all over are getting creative and innovative in the ways they are running their business during the changes of the pandemic. Non-profit organizations are no exception. And argumentatively are some of the most impacted organizations.

The IT Company works closely with non-profits, both serving as their IT departments and supporting their missions. One of our team members- Kenneth Herring- not only has a background in non-profit work, but holds supporting local non-profits close to his heart. He had the opportunity to sit down and talk with two Knoxville non-profit leaders about the impact the pandemic has had on their organization, positively and negatively.

So what are local non-profits doing to enable themselves to continue serving during this unknown time?

Dr. Nicole Chandler, Executive Director of The Change Center, and Brent Waugh, CEO of Knoxville’s Big Brothers Big Sisters, shared their insight with us.

How have you continued to serve during the pandemic?

At The Change Center, their primary focus is to serve school-aged children. While the doors of The Change Center may not be open for these kids in the same way, it hasn’t stopped them from providing children with opportunities and essentials. The Change Center continues to collaborate with other organizations and the school system to provide families with supplement meals, grab and go dinners and school resource packets. In normal circumstances, The Change Center provides job opportunities for teens to make money, and they continue to do so during this time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters continues to processing youth who need mentors. While the process may look different (conducting interviews via phone, mentor orientations via zoom, etc.), it hasn’t stopped them from working to provide children with positive mentors in their lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters has even been able to host virtual match meetings, where the child gets to meet their Big for the first time!

How has the pandemic changed things for your organization from a fundraising standpoint?

Like businesses of all types- events have had to be canceled due to the pandemic. For The Change Center, this means fundraising events have been canceled. To fill this gap, they have focused on applying for grants that allow them to continue to serve. They are relying heavily on donner support. The Change Center is also finding ways for volunteers to still be involved by providing opportunities to help pack supplemental meals, while of course abiding by social distancing.

Big Brothers Big Sisters faces similar challenges, with fundraising events being postponed or canceled. Brent shared that with the changes to the normal methods of reaching donners and supporters, they are focusing on continuing to reach out via phone calls, social media and emails to their donners. Big Brothers Big Sisters has found it beneficial to be open and honest with their donners about the financial gap they are facing during this time. They have seen a 6,000% increase in requests from families for rental assistance. Now more than ever,  is when sharing those stories to donners can make a difference.

Both Nicole and Brent advocated the best advice they have for nonprofits during this time are:

  1. Take care of your people. Check in frequently with your staff. How they are doing and how you can help them is so important.
  2. Lean on your board for suggestions, ideas and help.
  3. Practice self-care. Set aside time for yourself. Create boundaries of your work and personal life. In the business of serving others, you have to fill your own cup before you can fill other’s.
  4. Keep up the good work. None of this is easy and there are so many challenges, but the non-profit community has such a platform to step up here.

Brent shared that at Big Brothers Big Sisters they are keeping the mindset that these challenges can become a blessing to their organization. It is a perfect time to be centered around your organization’s mission and clearly articulating why you do what you do.

“Even though we are non-profits, we can still be innovative, forward-thinking and try new things. COVID-19 is forcing non-profits to have to think with a creative mentality and it may very well end up as a blessing for our organizations.”

The services of non-profit organizations are needed in ways and levels they’ve never been needed before. As a community they continue to work vigorously to fil the gaps for kids and people all over during this time. At The IT Company we continue to be in awe of the ways non-profit organizations are continuing to find ways to serve the Knoxville people.  

Watch the full recording!

July 15th, 2020 |Categories: COVID-19, IT Blog, Blog, Coronavirus, Non-profit, Knoxville

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