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“This pandemic and its implications have had a significant impact on the nonprofit community, and they need us now more than ever.” Keith Curtis wrote a great Op-Ed, published in The Virginian-Pilot yesterday. Check out these tangible ways that we can help without leaving our homes.

Have you enjoyed the Virginia Symphony or visited the Virginia Aquarium? Have you rushed your child to CHKD in the middle of the night? Have you donated canned goods to the local foodbank or volunteered for United Way?

Each of these organizations, a part of the fabric of our incredible community, are all nonprofits. Nonprofits are critical components of our educational, health, social and cultural life. They employ thousands locally and provide stability to our economy and our most vulnerable neighbors

This pandemic and its implications have had a significant impact on the nonprofit community, and they need us now more than ever. With so much uncertainty, it might seem daunting to identify ways to support the work of nonprofits.

However, I believe it is because of this uncertainty that we must step up to assist the nonprofit community. It just might require a little creativity.

Consider the impact of COVID-19 on nonprofits.

  • The Virginia Symphony, the Virginia Arts Festival, the Virginia Stage Company and more have had to cancel performances and seasons. The Chrysler Museum, the Virginia Aquarium, Nauticus and the Virginia Zoo have all had to close.
  • Students cannot easily access meals during the school day. Family and work life have been disrupted. Isolation has made it hard to distribute supplies. The Foodbank’s entire business model has been interrupted. Edmarc Hospice cannot receive volunteers for the safety of their patients.

But for each of these negative impacts, there has been even greater creativity from nonprofits to ensure that needs are still being met.

  • Nauticus and the Virginia Aquarium, among many other cultural institutions, have started providing virtual experiences. I watched online as staff members at Nauticus stood next to the shark tank and shared fun shark facts. The Virginia Stage Company is offering free Virtual Stage Workshops with such topics as “Understanding Shakespeare.”
  • As members of our community struggle to put food on the table and make ends meet, partnerships have become more critical. The Foodbank has partnered with the YMCA of South Hampton Roads, Mercy Chefs and Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, to provide meals for seniors, children and low-income families experiencing food insecurity.
  • The United Way of South Hampton Roads has started the Coronavirus Recovery Fund to assist those individuals and service providers hardest hit by the virus.

So how can Hampton Roads resident help? It might require a bit of creativity, but still the most powerful thing we can do is give.

  • If you want to make an impact right now, make an online donation to an organization you love. Consider a recurring monthly gift because nonprofits can better plan around this type of ongoing support.
  • If you want to spread awareness, host a virtual fundraiser for a nonprofit through Facebook, GoFundMe or other virtual fundraising platforms.
  • If you bought a ticket to a canceled show, donate it back as a charitable gift and consider renewing your subscription early for next season.
  • If you can’t go to a fundraising gala because it was postponed, consider what you would have spent that evening and donate it to the organization.
  • If you want to make sure your dollars are going to those most in need, give to a fund designated for coronavirus needs.
  • If you are ready to leave your house, schedule an appointment to donate blood or donate food at a designated drop-off location for your local food bank.

In our 31 years of business, I have been through a number of uncertain and challenging times. Each time, I have seen people dig deep to help their neighbors. This is what makes our community so strong. The work that these nonprofits have done and continue to do in the face of uncertainty is truly inspiring. And I find the work that we do as a community to support these nonprofits equally as inspiring.

Keith Curtis is founder and president of The Curtis Group, a Virginia Beach-based consulting firm for nonprofits. He is immediate past chair of the Giving USA Foundation and has consulted to more than 200 nonprofits.

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