Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, nonprofit organizations are busier than ever as they navigate the community’s growing needs, evolving protocols, and operating uncertainties. North Texans can support the nonprofit sector on North Texas Giving Day, the annual online giving campaign on Sept. 17.
Last September, North Texas Giving Day raised $50 million for 2,988 nonprofits.
To generate emergency relief during the early days of the pandemic, the Communities Foundation of Texas partnered with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys for North Texas Giving Tuesday Now on May 5.
“We were yet again blown away by the generosity of the community to raise $20 million for 2,500 nonprofits,” Susan Swan Smith, the Chief Giving Day Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas, said.
This year’s North Texas Giving Day will be different, without the usual large in-person celebrations. A North Texas Giving Day concert presented by Arlington Tomorrow Foundation at Levitt Pavilion will be streamed on the Facebook pages of the foundation and the pavilion. “We want to be really upbeat,” Smith said. “It’s a little less party with a purpose and a little more about the community coming together.”
More than 3,000 nonprofits are participating this year, each hoping North Texans will be generous. “Every gift makes a difference. Every gift counts and that’s more true this year more than ever before,” Smith said.
Communities Foundation of Texas routinely works with nonprofits to help them reach potential donors. This year, the advice is to express urgency and realism. “We’ve been encouraging them to tell their own story about how the pandemic has affected them in plain words,” Smith said.
Numbers tell the story of The Storehouse of Collin County’s pandemic experience. The nonprofit dedicated to feeding, clothing, and caring for neighbors in need served 712 families through its Seven Loaves Food Pantry in February. In March, they served 982 families. April was a record month for the food pantry, serving 2,369 families. During the summer, the number leveled off and on average, the food pantry serves 1336 families.
Candace Winslow, The Storehouse’s Executive Director, believes this is the new normal. “We are preparing and operating to serve at this level for the foreseeable future,” Winslow said. “We need donors to see that our business has doubled and this level of need with be with us for a very long time.”
To ensure food is distributed safely, The Storehouse has overhauled its operating procedures. The food pantry gives each family 50-60 lbs. of food, providing enough meals for a week. The nonprofit reopened Joseph’s Coat, its clothing closet, by appointment only. The Storehouse has also modified Project Hope, its mentoring program for women, by offering virtual meetings through Zoom. “We have not turned one person away, I’m proud to say,” Winslow said.
The Storehouse’s mission during the pandemic is about more than necessities; it is about recognizing the humanity in others and offering hope. When Winslow complimented a colorful mask worn by a neighbor, the neighbor returned to give her a similar mask. She wears it each time she serves in the food pantry’s line. “When we are serving our neighbors, you can see people are thirsty for relationships. You see goodness, kindness and hope when you see our line,” Winslow said.
The Dallas Chamber Symphony last performed for a live audience on Feb. 11 at the Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District. It was a sold-out performance, another success to add to an already exciting season.
“We’re fortunate that we entered the pandemic in such a strong position and that has really helped us keep going,” Richard McKay, the orchestra’s artistic director and conductor, said.
From that position of strength, the orchestra is pivoting to innovate. “Part of our strategy going forward is going to be refashioning our subscription concert blocks into recording sessions. Whereas a lot of groups are doing that same thing in order to live stream and perform for small audiences, we’re doing it primarily so that we can release commercial albums at the end of the season,” McKay said.
The Dallas Chamber Symphony is planning to record at Moody Performance Hall, perhaps as early as later this calendar year. The orchestra hopes to produce three or four albums at the end of its 2020-2021 season and is considering what repertoire to record now and in the future.
“We’ve never recorded before. It’s interesting that this pandemic is going to give us this opportunity to focus on something we’ve always wanted to do but never had an excuse to commit ourselves to,” McKay said.
The orchestra will provide musicians with PPE and space out musicians according to safety recommendations. “One of the neat things about a recording session is that we can set up a little differently than we might in a concert. We can have more distance between players and if we’re strategic in what we decide to play, perhaps we can lean more heavily on musicians like strings players and pianists who can wear masks while playing so this can be our environment very safe,” McKay said.
While the orchestra plans to invite small audiences of subscribers and donors to the recording sessions, earned income will be severely limited this season. “It means essentially that we’re going to forfeit, at least for the foreseeable future, single ticket sales for all of our events because we can’t operate at capacity,” McKay said. “Contributed income is, by and large, the only revenue we’re going to receive this year.”
Funds raised on North Texas Giving Day will support keep musicians working as well as support the costs of the recording sessions and a flexible hybrid reopening. “I think recording is going to elevate our company’s brand and influence nationally and internationally,” McKay said, “That’s a major milestone for our company that fits very well for the climate we’re in.”
How to give on North Texas Giving Day: https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/