From the comfort of home, North Texans can support more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations facing extraordinary challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dallas Cowboys, Communities Foundation of Texas and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas join forces for North Texas Giving Tuesday Now, an online fundraising event on May 5. Gifts may be scheduled in advance now, with giving happening from 6 a.m. to midnight on the actual day.
This special fundraising event will run on the Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day platform. Since 2009, North Texas Giving Day has raised $290 million for the nonprofit sector. In 2019, the 18-hour online campaign raised $50 million from more than $100,000 gifts benefiting 3,000 nonprofits in 20 counties.
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Recognizing the need created by the crisis, the team at the Communities Foundation of Texas pivoted to prepare the platform. “It’s a nine-month project shortened into two weeks,” Susan Swan Smith, Chief Giving Day Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas, said.
Donors can give to nonprofits who participated in 2019 as well as organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Some fees for participating organization have been eliminated and several nonprofits are raising matching funds to amplify gifts.
“It is really is ideal,” Smith said. “We have opened it so nonprofits can update their information if they want to. And they can set up alerts about cancellations and critical needs. We want this to be a straight-forward campaign for everyone.”
The Storehouse of Collin County is focused on meeting a specific critical need during this health and economic crisis: food. The nonprofit dedicated to feeding, clothing, and caring for neighbors in need is located on the campus of St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Plano. Normally, The Storehouse serves 125 families on Thursdays and Saturdays through its Seven Loaves Food Pantry. Since March 13, the food pantry has been serving a growing number of families, more than doubling the number of neighbors served.
The Storehouse adapted quickly to serve more families effectively, efficiently, and safely. “We had to change our distribution model completely,” Candace Winslow, The Storehouse’s Executive Director, said. “We’ve had to streamline our process to serve our neighbors and adapt to a fluid situation.”
The food pantry’s distribution has moved outside and has become a walk-up operation. Storehouse staff facilitates the distribution of prepared bags of eggs, cheese, beans, pasta, and meat with minimal contact. Everyone is appropriately spaced out and sanitation is a priority.
The Storehouse suspended its volunteer operations as well as Joseph’s Coat, its clothing closet, and Project Hope, its mentoring program for women. Funds raised on May 5 will help The Storehouse support the operations and food supply needs of the Seven Loaves Food Pantry. “I tell everyone what we value most is cash donations,” Winslow said. “As much as we want to raise funds, we want to raise awareness of food insecurity and the needs of our neighbors.”
Winslow is also thinking about the future. “I need your help as much tomorrow as I do today,” Winslow said. “We know we’re going to need help long after the shelter-in-place order is over. I think we’ll be feeling the effects of COVID-19 through 2020.”
The world changed quickly for Mansfield Commission for the Arts. In early March, the nonprofit that supports and promotes the city of Mansfield’s creative community hosted its Arts Week. The multi-day event featured a visual arts showcase, historic downtown walking tours and a variety of performances. Within a couple of weeks, performances at Mansfield’s historic theater and fundraising efforts were canceled or postponed. “We were planning to send out a big fundraising appeal for April. It was all ready to go, but we shelved it,’ Rosalie Gilbert, Cultural Arts Supervisor of Mansfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, said.
The arts commission is concerned about the loss of funding through the city’s hotel occupancy tax. Currently, the occupancy rate is 10% - 12%. The tax funds the Music Alley Festival in September. “We do not know right now if that event is feasible. It certainly will be a smaller event,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert is also concerned about the economic ripple effects of having arts organizations closed. When someone attends an arts event in Mansfield, they spend an average of $30 at a restaurant or retailer, above and beyond the ticket price. “When there isn’t a show, there is less business,” Gilbert said.
The nonprofit has been broadcasting art classes and live painting tutorials online. “This is unchartered territory, and everyone is scared and bored and the arts can provide essential entertainment as well as hope and encouragement, something uplifting right now,” Gilbert said.
To support the young arts scene, the arts commission will consider grant requests for general operating expenses during this grant cycle. Funds raised on May 5 will support those operational grants and recoup some of the money the arts commission hoped to raise during the April fundraiser. “We don’t want to see Mansfield become an arts desert,” Gilbert said.
The Communities Foundation of Texas is hoping North Texans will be generous on May 5 and will remember the nonprofits’ continuing needs when North Texas Giving Day comes around on September 17. “Every gift makes a difference. I think a lot of people want to give,” Smith said. “In so many ways, this is the perfect fundraising event in the time of social distancing.”
How to Give: https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/