NBC CT: Nonprofits Adapting During the Pandemic

October 12, 2020, at 7:33 PM
Caitlin Burchill


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Food insecurity, job loss, virtual learning: it’s been a brutal couple of months in Connecticut and beyond. The coronavirus crisis is also taking a toll on nonprofits around our state.

In June and July, 258 Connecticut nonprofits took a survey focusing on the challenges they face during the pandemic. The results were concerning.

The Alliance, a group that represents nonprofits in Connecticut, said as funding runs dry and demand for service grows, more support is needed.

 “It’s been a very difficult year because of COVID, but COVID comes on top of a dozen years of inadequate funding,” said Alliance President and CEO Gian-Carl Casa.

And while every penny helps, Casa said there is a need to push for more state and federal funding. “The need that’s out there can only be met by statewide assistance.”

In the meantime, local nonprofit leaders are relying on their persistent staff and supporters to keep them moving and making an impact on our communities, from a social distance of course.

“We’ve been dealing with a reduction of revenue of about 20%. We never charge any family or child for our services,” said Andy Fleischmann, CEO of Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters.

When the pandemic hit, they quickly had create a virtual mentoring tool kit. “Our 'Big Brothers Big Sisters,' usually like to take kids out to ballgames and to parks, and museums and that’s had to be cut back." The nonprofit is asking mentors to check in each week, now that volunteering has picked up again.

“That’s provided some stability and constancy for kids who’ve had to deal with so much change in the last couple of months. The number of volunteers just dropped precipitously March, April," he explained. That picked up this summer, but has started to slow down again.

Likewise social distancing has done made an impact on Special Olympics Connecticut.

“Well we made plenty of changes. You know, we were doing so many events up until March," Beau Doherty, Special Olympics CT president, said.

While the group couldn’t host any in-person events for months, they’ve found positives engaging athletes virtually. But nothing beats competing in person.

“Since this pandemic unfortunately hit us, it’s hard not to be on a team and not be able to see our Special Olympic friends,” said Special Olympics CT Global Messenger Nick Sinacori.

Sinacori was psyched to compete in cornhole recently, “It was a COVID friendly experience. We were social distancing and wearing masks.”

Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut had to close its 22 stores in March.

“During those two, two-and-a-half months, the store closures was crushing to our organization,” said the nonprofit's President & CEO Jeff Wieser. While they’ve reopened, they could use help.

“Shop at Goodwill, donate to Goodwill, and we love you.”

While these circumstances aren’t ideal, local nonprofits like these are asking for any help they can get through donations or volunteering from a social distance during these tough times.

“The times are hard for you, they’re probably harder for someone else out there in the community. And if you’re able to give some support, it makes a huge difference,” said Fleischmann