The nonprofit sector in our community is the glue that holds us together. They fight for justice, care for the sick and vulnerable, and respond in times of crisis. One natural disaster or tragedy can wreak havoc on a nonprofit’s already thin bottom line. Increased demand in services that outstrip already stretched capacity and significantly reduced fundraising due to donations being diverted to other causes can mean financial ruin for an agency without a healthy reserve. Most don’t have healthy reserves.
In 2016, most Central-Florida nonprofits saw a decrease in fundraising revenue in the wake of the Pulse tragedy. Our community came together to ensure victims’ families and survivors were cared for. As a result, many organizations saw a 10 to 30 percent decrease in revenue, according to a study conducted by the Edyth Bush Institute. That weakened the bottom line and drained the reserves of many of our nonprofits.
This year was to be a year of recovery. Fundraising revenue was strong in the first half of the year, and people were hopeful for a strong second half … then the hurricanes hit. First Texas, then our own community and state. Many local foundations recognized the impact and stepped up with grants to help ease losses. Next came the devastation in Puerto Rico. Refugees have begun arriving daily, and nonprofits have rallied to help. Last week, the unspeakable happened with the tragedy in Las Vegas—all the while, another storm swirls in the gulf.
Many people are stepping up to help those in crisis with financial donations, but all of this is happening at a time when many nonprofits are holding what should be their largest revenue-generating events of the year. We could be facing another crisis in the very near future, if we are not prepared to help address the sustainability of our nonprofit sector. Those special events we all missed because we didn’t have power or that check we didn’t give because we had to pay for repairs to our own home will have an impact.
The time to act is now. If you serve on a board, watch the bottom line closely. Ensure you act early to address shortfalls and talk to funders about the reality of your financial situation. If you give, reach deep. We are all reeling from the devastation across our county, but we cannot wait and see. Now is the time to care for those that care for others, and make sure they are sustained through the coming storm.
Carol Wick, a Principal with fundraising services firm Convergent Nonprofit Solutions, started her career working with at-risk children and quickly gained national attention for her ability to create and implement innovative and sustainable solutions to century old problems. Prior to joining Convergent, Carol served for a decade as the CEO of a domestic violence shelter based in Central Florida. During her tenure she dramatically increased the organization’s funding, stature, and performance.
Utilizing this wealth of experience, Carol launched the Making Mission Happen division at Convergent, assisting organizations to assess their capacity and take their organization to the next level. By combining her organizational growth expertise and Convergent’s fundraising skills, we can help you develop the vision, test it, and sell it to investors to make it a reality.