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With increasing demand and a corresponding plummet in donations, nonprofits in the region had taken a major hit in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, two organizations have stepped up efforts to shore them up during the crisis.

Valley of the Sun United Way launched a “United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund” to support families and businesses impacted by the virus and begged for help, asking for donations at vsuw.org/covid19fund or via texting UnitedFund to 51555.

The virus “leaves many families and individuals struggling more than ever with how to secure food, childcare, and rent money – also causing local nonprofits to be faced with unforeseen demands and challenges,” United Way said in a release.

 The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits said a survey found that nearly 90 percent of the 364 members are predicting a loss of nearly $30 million in revenue from canceled events.

More than half of the nonprofits expressed concern for budgetary implications related to strains on the national economy and indicated their services to communities and individuals had been disrupted.

“It’s incredibly difficult to watch this happening and we’re certainly much too early in the process to even try to determine an overall dollar impact, but we do know that organizations reporting revenue impact expect to lose an average of 31 percent of their revenue with reported ranges up to $10 million,” said Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits CEO Kristen Merrifield.

Merrifield said that additional steps have been taken to provide expanded support through the upcoming Arizona Gives Day 24-hour online fundraising campaign, a collaboration with Arizona Grantmakers Forum and presented by First Bank, on April 7, including:

An Emergency Relief Fund giving donors the option to increase donations as an add-on at check out or through direct donation at www.azgives.org/aznonprofits. All funds will be distributed equally among participating nonprofits.  

Re-opening registration to allow organizations that had to cancel fundraisers, programs and other events that originally chose not to participate to be able to benefit from the fundraiser.  The new registration deadline is March 27.

 A group of donors has provided separate funding enabling the Alliance to waive payment-processing fees normally paid by nonprofits participating in Arizona Gives Day, allowing more funds to go directly to the nonprofits.

“It’s clear that Arizona nonprofits are facing a triple threat from the COVID-19 outbreak: staggering revenue losses from canceled events, workforce shortages as volunteers and paid staff stay home, and dramatically increased demand for their services,” said Arizona Grantmakers Forum President and CEO Laurie Liles. 

Since 2013, Arizona Gives Day has generated $17 million in donations to Arizona nonprofits with $3.6 million donated in 2019. 

Early giving is open at azgives.org.

Most nonprofits also report adhering to hygiene-safety recommendations, staying informed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arizona Department of Health Services updates.

Valley of the Sun United Way is working with local foundations, businesses and others to create the new United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund, which will be directed to the county’s most pressing needs.

 “This is an accelerated approach to how United Way works every day. We partner with nonprofits and schools to identify the most pressing needs, then mobilize the caring power of our community to meet those needs,” said Valley of the Sun United Way President and CEO Carla Vargas Jasa.

 “Today, our community needs resources that are available quickly and can be nimble to meet the fast-changing environment that many of Maricopa County’s health and human service and education organizations are facing right now.”

By working with its partner organizations that know and serve those most impacted by COVID-19, a United Way release said it “will quickly allocate funds to address the county’s most pertinent emerging needs in real time.”

This week, United Way held two virtual forums with more than 100 representatives from its nonprofit partner agencies who shared needs, concerns and ideas. 

“They are looking to United Way to continue to convene all concerned, and coordinate with corporate and individual donors to ensure services are provided to those who need them most.

“This is a community-wide effort of epic proportions – and we are experiencing challenges that we have never seen before,” said Michael Hughes, CEO of A New Leaf, which provides a broad spectrum of services that help individuals and families experiencing homelessness and more.

 “This is the best way for us all to move forward, together, to fill immediate needs and eliminate the duplication of precious resources,” he added. “We’re all doing our part to make sure those who need help maintain access to it.”

The nonprofits overall address a wide range of needs such as shelter, meals, financial stability and educational support for their kids.

“Our community’s situation is rapidly evolving. We believe it is our responsibility to assist in coordinating a response with our partners and help those who are experiencing the unforeseen pressures created by this pandemic,” said United Way board Chairwoman Jenny Holsman Tetreault. 

“The resources our community members and nonprofits require most are changing on a daily basis, sometimes hourly, and the United for the Valley COVID-19 Fund provides a flexible resource to help with needs as they arise. We have a 95- year history of bringing people and organizations together to address the community’s most pressing needs – our community looks to us now more than ever.”

More than 650,000 households spanning Maricopa County struggled to meet their basic needs even before the coronavirus outbreak began and the continued disruptions to school, business, large gatherings and events are making things even more difficult, the spokeswoman added.

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