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Emergency funds set up to aid Tucson nonprofits impacted by COVID-19

Emergency funds set up to aid Tucson nonprofits impacted by COVID-19

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series
  • Updated

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, which provides more than $10 million annually in direct support to charitable organizations through grants, donor-advised funds and other vehicles, has established two COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds to assist local nonprofits in need.

For the past 40 years, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has been a hub of the local nonprofit sector: It has inspired donors and worked with individuals, families and businesses to create charitable funds for diverse causes in the community.

Now it is stepping forward with special COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Support Funds — seeded with an initial gift of $10,000 from CFSA — to provide grants to local nonprofits to ensure that critical services continue without interruption.

“This is fundraising season and nonprofits have big events planned now throughout the spring until people leave in the summer. We were hearing from many who have had to cancel essential events; it will definitely have a financial impact on our local nonprofits and their ability to serve their clients and we hope to help fill the gap through creation of this fund,” said Clint Mabie, president and CEO of the CFSA.

The COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Support Funds will offer an online process through which nonprofits can apply for grants; the process will be finalized in the next few weeks and the effort will be funded by donations from individuals, businesses and private foundations.

TheRelief and Support Funds will become part of CFSA’s family of funds, which provide more than $10 million annually in direct support to charitable organizations through a variety of vehicles including competitive grant rounds, donor advised funds and funds designated to specific organizations in perpetuity.

Mabie said that CFSA is committed to being responsive to the needs of the community and has come to the aid of nonprofits during troubled times in the past.

“During the financial crisis in 2008, we gave away $450,000 to help the community. We also coordinated a response to the January 8 Tucson shootings in 2011 and distributed more than $1 million through that effort to victims, their families and nonprofits that were supporting the community. It was our honor to be able to help when we were asked by the community,” said Mabie.

Local nonprofit organizations have already indicated that the COVID-19 EmergencyRelief and Support Funds will be necessary.

A poll conducted last week by the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits resulted in more than 230 responses from nonprofits.

Over 80% of respondents reported decreased revenue from canceled events/contracts due to COVID-19, while more than 50% expressed concern for budgetary implications related to strains on the national economy.

Staff travel restrictions and general operating costs were also at the forefront of concerns, according to Alliance Chief Executive Officer Kristen Merrifield.

Additionally, Merrifield said that those reporting impact expected to lose an average of 25% or $100,000 in revenue, with reported ranges of 2 to 100% and $400,000 to $1 million in lost revenue.

“This is a double whammy for many of these nonprofits. Not only is their funding going down, but the demand and need for services is going up. Many are reporting an increase in their expenses already,” Merrifield said.

To help defray the losses for the nonprofits, Merrifield is also promoting awareness about Arizona Gives Day on Tuesday, April 7.

Early giving for the online event, which is sponsored annually by the Alliance, begins on Tuesday, March 17 and can be accessed at through April 7.

The Alliance has reopened registration to nonprofits for the event; participating charities are eligible to qualify for more than $180,000 in prize money courtesy of presenting sponsors such as FirstBank, Thunderbird Charities and Freeport McMoRan Foundation.

“We are doing everything we can to get the word out. If nonprofits have had to cancel an event in light of everything that has happened, they can turn to Arizona Gives Day. We are offering the same message to donors. If they had planned to attend a fundraiser and are not sure how to give a gift now, they can transition to an online gift as opposed to in-person,” Merrifield said.

With healthy social distancing a priority, additional online philanthropic opportunities for both nonprofits and donors are in development, according to Mabie.

“The situation is fluid and is changing daily. Responses to COVID-19 are being created and we will publicize those as they come into being,” he said.

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