The Latin American Coalition has served the Latino community in Charlotte for 30 years. However, according to President José Hernández-Paris, the organization was not prepared for everything that the coronavirus pandemic brought.
The services offered by The Coalition have had a high demand. While the organization has been working to meet the needs of the community, it has had to deal with with the financial and operational challenges caused by the pandemic.
“We have just faced one of the most crucial crises as an organization in the last 30 years with a community that was the most vulnerable in the middle of a pandemic, ”Hernández-Paris explained.
Hernández-Paris says the Coalition created a customer service hotline for COVID-19-related services in March 2020. This meant that staff members had to take on new roles to meet the specific needs of the pandemic.
“We really weren’t prepared for the change and we had to adapt and learn quickly”Hernández-Paris said.
“Non-profit organizations reinvented themselves”
Amanda Stewart, professor of public administration at N.C. State University has been doing research the effect of the pandemic on non-profit organizations. Says this change in priorities and staff it has been common for social service organizations like La Coalición.
“Non-profit organizations they reinvented, ”He explained. “They reinvented themselves and continued to provide services, seeking new forms of response and adjusting the way they worked. They changed the functions of the staff, they changed their priorities, they had to postpone projects that were not as important as the response to COVID-19.”
Stewart says non-profit organizations that provide social services have faced a difficult situation as the demand for their services has increased, while your finances and operations continue to suffer the consequences of the pandemic.
“It is the perfect storm. Their income is in decline as their expenses continue and in many cases are increasing, ”he said.
According to Hernández-París, the Coalition has had to invest in the renovation of computers, telephones and high-speed internet. Similarly, the organization had to cancel its five fundraising events, which account for 30% of its income, Hernández-Paris notes.
He also mentioned that his 15 employees made the decision to work one day less, with the reduction in income per month that this implies, so that they would not have to fire anyone.
“We knew that we had to be aggressive, ”Hernández-Paris commented. “We had to do whatever it took to help the community. And then we would deal with whatever came up. “
It says that the financial recovery it happened relatively fast.
“We probably broke all the historical records we had in terms of contributions because foundations and individuals realized that we were a critical part of COVID-19 recovery and assistance for the community.” explained.
But according to Hernández-Paris, although the Coalition secured a good number of contributions, individual donations went down and expenses went up.
Increase in demand for services, but not in resources
A report of the group Giving Tuesday found that charitable donations went up 5% nationally. But, according to the report, there is concern that this number could drop this year.
That is the concern of Hernández-Paris. More than a year after the start of the pandemic, indicates that the money is decreasing again. The services of The Coalition are still in high demand But donation money is starting to run out.
He says they are fine for the next six months, but adds that they have already started to hear from foundations that funding will be lower this year.
“Because the people who were going to donate throughout the year gave all their money at the beginning,” he explained.
Other non-profit organizations that provide direct social services have had similar experiences.
“Non-profit organizations have seen a increased needs of the communities they serve, and in many cases, have not seen an increase in resources available to provide assistance, ”said David Heinen, vice president of public policy at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.
A survey del Centro found that 40% of respondents experienced an increase in demand for their services and 75% reported a loss of income during the pandemic.
“The solutions they have offered for nonprofits have been like patches rather than sustainable support,” Heinen said.
Heinen points out that for nonprofits to recover sustainably, they will need more financial support.
“Without a doubt there is a lot of need,” he explained. “And I think that need has to be met with a combination of private and government support.”
As another round of loans from the Payment Protection Program or the directing of funds from the American Rescue Plan to non-profit organizations.
Financial aid is key to recovery
On Care Ring, a public health organization, the executive director, Tchernavia Montgomery says the organization has stood up thanks to continued support from the community. Montgomery says individual contributions and donations charitable in general have increased this last year.
“We have benefited a lot from the great community generosityMontgomery said. “However, we know that many of these donations are time limited and that we are entering a new fiscal year. So it will be very important for us to continue meeting that need. “
Montgomery mentions that it follows increasing the need for health services provided by Care Ring. The entity has a low-cost clinic and a program that brings together low-income pregnant women with nurses.
“As we continue to help our patients who are experiencing financial difficulties and trying to recover from the pandemic, such as organization we are going to need additional assistance in order to fulfill our mission, ”Montgomery said.
Montgomery says he has total confidence where donors and foundations that help Care Ring go to continue to support financially to the organization so that it can continue to provide its services to those who require them.