Jeanne Tedrow, President & CEO, North Carolina Center for Nonprofits
It has never been truer that it “takes a village.” Nonprofit organizations, especially those that provide direct and essential services, have stepped up even more to care for those in our community needing food and shelter. As quickly as possible, organizations considered how their staff could safely provide care as they transitioned to remote case management and virtual client check-ins. Those providing food strategized on how pick-up lines could be made to efficiently deliver food. Shelter staff have been working with hotels to reduce the number of those in close quarters. Child care facilities quickly evolved to centers for children of health care workers. Housing providers stepped in to assist with family supports even in the face of rental income decreasing as their tenants went without pay.
Even as we physically distance ourselves in our homes and away from our offices, we have seen how our lives interconnect, and that our interdependence matters. Our food supply chain is dependent on labor willing to face the risk of public service, as being a grocery worker has now become an act of courage. Our health care workers, every day on the front line, go to work to save others’ lives while they risk bringing the virus home to their own families.
As the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits has geared up to provide timely, reliable, and relevant information about COVID-19 for all in the nonprofit sector, we have also collaborated across the state with key partners with whom we have shared information and on whom we have relied for information. We have worked with the Governor’s and Secretary of State’s offices to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery, and we conducted a survey from the Center to document our sector’s experience.
We heard from so many about the importance of joining hands in local efforts in communities across the state. As the Center’s mission is to educate, connect, and advocate for North Carolina nonprofits, we aligned with the National Council of Nonprofits, our national partner, to focus on federal legislation that would influence how nonprofit organizations would be included in any and all stimulus packages. We joined with other state associations across the country to speak with one voice to keep nonprofit interests at the table. We urged policy makers to understand the role that nonprofits play in all of our communities, and that we are, like other small businesses, essential to the life of our communities. Closer to home, we advocated at the state level to support our nonprofit workforce because the NC nonprofit sector employs one out of every ten workers and our economic impact was $51.2 billion prior to this pandemic.
We continue to lift up the issues raised about equity and access to resources, as well as our concerns about the disproportionate impact of this virus and its economic impact on communities of color, immigrants, and Latin-x communities. We know we are facing great obstacles and that the nonprofit sector is being challenged as never before. We appreciate the support of both private and public funders who have reached out in new ways, to become more flexible with their grants and reduce barriers to applications. The North Carolina Network of Grantmakers under the leadership of Ret Boney has been meeting weekly with us to share ideas and concerns, and have influenced the flow of grantmaker funds to help nonprofits continue to operate during these trying times.
Across the state, the Center has collaborated with regional partners to share ideas on how to strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector, especially now. While there are many, we highlight a few here to thank them for their continued support and outreach.
Western North Carolina Nonprofit Pathways, led by Jeannette Butterworth, championing outreach and capacity building to western NC nonprofits.
HandsOn Northwest North Carolina, led by Kathy Davis and Amy Lytle, joined by Steve Hayes and Crystal Maurer with the Guilford Nonprofit Consortium, working to assure that Triad nonprofits are supported and sustained.
The Conservation Fund, coordinating efforts with Community Engagement Director Mikki Stager through the Resourceful Communities program.
QENO, led by Natasha Davis, working in partnership with UNC-Wilmington to provide leadership and community engagement with organizations in southeastern NC.
Rural Forward, led by Calvin Allen, gaining insight and support for rural nonprofits across North Carolina.
These and so many collaborations and partnerships are working together every day, before, during, and after any crisis hits their communities. And the Center will continue to seek and support collaborations and partners because we know it really does “take a village!”
Author’s Aside: The nonprofit sector is as diverse as the communities we serve. Now is such an important time to give to nonprofits and their vital missions that improve the quality of all of our lives.