CORONAVIRUS

#GivingTuesdayNow to help during pandemic

Fundraiser helps support not-for-profit organizations

Moravian folk artist Marie Svirgov#xe1; dresses a mannequin, with help from Dagmar Benesov#xe1; (left) and Sonya Darrow
Moravian folk artist Marie Švirgová dresses a mannequin, with help from Dagmar Benešová (left) and Sonya Darrow (right) in February in preparation for an exhibit at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids. “Support from #GivingTuesdayNow will help us to prepare the museum for reopening,” Evelyn Rossow says. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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A national push for charitable giving is filtering to the local level during the coronavirus crisis.

The group that organizes GivingTuesday, begun in 2012 and traditionally the Tuesday after Black Friday in November, conceived of today’s day of giving — called #GivingTuesdayNow — to create an immediate push to activate financial contributions to assist not-for-profits in maintaining operations.

“As a global community, we can mourn this moment of extreme crisis while also finding the opportunity to support one another,” said Asha Curran, CEO of GivingTuesday.

“We each have the power to make an impact with acts of generosity, no matter how small, and to ensure the sustainability of organizations and services that are crucial to the care and support of our communities.”

LaNisha Cassell, executive director or the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, said: “GivingTuesdayNow funds will assist our efforts to remain sustained during the closure and provide us with some ‘gap’ time for our continued efforts to adapt our programming in a more innovative way to recapture our audiences via virtual opportunities as well as incorporate safety measures that will reassure our members, patrons, donors and the community that we are will be ready to open as soon as possible, with their health and safety at the forefront of our plans.”

Because the museum has been closed to the public for the past seven weeks, Cassell said the African American Museum of Iowa has lost revenue estimated at about $1,250 per week. It typically sees that revenue in admissions, guided tours, presentations, programs, venue rentals, store merchandise sales and traveling resources.

“We are conscious of the value the museum has in our community and we want to highlight the social and educational benefits we provide to our communities across Iowa, particularly bringing attention to our losses operationally during this pandemic,” Cassell said.

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“On our Facebook fundraising campaign, directly tied to #GivingTuesdayNow, we have featured images of our community engagement as a visible demonstration of what we bring to families, students, libraries, classrooms and the entire community.”

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library also has closed its doors to the public for the time being.

“Like so many businesses and organizations in our community, having our doors closed means delaying our special events, programs and exhibits which bring in the support we need to keep the museum doors open. Support from #GivingTuesdayNow will help us to prepare the museum for reopening especially for additional safety and health precautions we see as critical,” said Evelyn Rossow, its director of community engagement and development.

“And we see #GivingTuesdayNow as a great opportunity to celebrate a giving spirit in these difficult times,” she added.

The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation also is encouraging community members and businesses to support NFPs by participating in #GivingTuesdayNow.

“We just want to get the word out there to the community because these giving days can be a really nice support to nonprofits especially right now when the need is so great,” said Corinne Ramler, vice president of marketing and communications at the foundation. “Nonprofit organizations are facing unprecedented challenges to meet the demand for their services and to sustain their organizations during this time. This day of giving provides a time for Linn County residents to show their support of their community.”

Katie Curtis, Foundation 2’s chief development officer, found out about #GivingTuesdayNow through the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation and is tapping into the tool kit it created for NFPs as Foundation 2 also sees challenges to their operations because of the pandemic.

“While it seems like a lot of the world has kind of been put on pause, we continue to see kids come and go from our shelter and we continue to run our crisis lines,” said Curtis, noting that staff also are offering telehealth counseling.

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“We and so many other nonprofits have seen an increase in need — whether that’s related to increased technology costs, acquiring (personal protective equipment) or blowing through cleaning supplies.”

She said Foundation 2’s big emphasis for #GivingTuesdayNow is on safety and health.

“What is really important right now, particularly at our shelter, is keeping the kids in our shelter healthy,” she said.

The organization has been using money to buy cleaning supplies and masks to keep children and staff safe.

“This community always does a great job of coming up with giving opportunities and keeping our nonprofits as connected and supported as possible during a crisis,” Curtis said. “It’s an opportunity for us as nonprofits to say thank you, too.”

Diane Smith, development director at House of Hope found out about the initiative through the local Association of Fundraising Professionals, especially as staff see an increase for the need for their counseling services.

“The world was experiencing an increase in mental health before Rossow came into our life. Now the pandemic is leaving many individuals feeling anxious, nervous, and with a heightened sense of panic. We, as a community, will see the effects of this long after this ends,” Smith said.

House of Hope — a small faith-based NFP that helps those in need of emotional and mental health support through classes, therapy, residency program and community groups — continues to offer therapy appointments continue via telehealth. But it is facing budget challenges because of having to cancel a May event that typically helps the organization bring in $10,000 each spring.

Smith said she plans do a live video on the organization’s Facebook page to engage supporters for #GivingTuesdayNow.

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The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation opened its COVID-19 Disaster Response Fund in mid-March to provide rapid response grants, and Toyota USA, through Toyota Financial Services in Cedar Rapids, will provide a one-one match up to $25,000 to donations through the foundation’s response fund on #GivingTuesday.

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