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Nonprofits find ways to thrive throughout pandemic

During the pandemic, only 10% of the nonprofits said they were still offering the same services as usual.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As we approach the season of giving, many nonprofits continue to face an uphill battle for donations. But with some innovation, and a community of helpers, they have survived and in some cases, thrived.

Lacey Buchanan knows firsthand just how beneficial nonprofits are. Her son, Christian, was born with a facial difference. He’s also blind.

“I get a little teary-eyed, you know, thinking about the effort they put into this so he could enjoy it,” Buchanan said.

Christian recently received a special wish from the Magical Moments Foundation. He loves cars and everything about them. Christian recently spent the day at Honda in Marysville. It was part of a special weekend courtesy the foundation.

“It was a really special time for Christian and something that he will never forget,” Buchanan said.

Magical Moments was established during the pandemic. They immediately felt the strains of other nonprofits.

“We self-funded initially,” said co-founder Krista Schrader. “We realized we were going to need donations to really get this going.”

Nonprofits have been fighting back from the moment the pandemic hit and their donations dropped.

“Honestly, in early 2020, my first thought was… what are we gonna do for our families? I think a lot of people in the non-profit sector felt that same way,” said DSACO CEO Kari Jones.

The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio was forced to cancel in-person fundraising. Their largest fundraising event, The Columbus Buddy Walk, was also canceled.

“We’re fortunate enough to raise over a half a million dollars a year and we were already thinking… what does this mean? Everything comes to a standstill, and you don’t know how it’s gonna impact your bottom line,” Jones said.

According to a joint survey from May 2020 by Ohio State University, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and Philanthropy Ohio, only 10% of the nonprofits said they were still offering the same services as usual. At the same time, another 8% said they saw an increase in demand for their services.

“We’re grateful for our community of support that kept us open throughout the pandemic,” said Ann Bischoff the CEO of Star House.

Star House is central Ohio’s only drop-in center for young people experiencing homelessness. When Congress passed the Cares Act in late March 2020, it included loans to help bridge the funding gap. That, in addition to help from local government, kept Star House running.

“We’ve been open every day since before the pandemic started because of the county, the city, and other community members, corporations, that lifted us up during this time,” Bischoff said.

As for Buchanan and her son Christian, they’re just grateful nonprofits are still able to do the wonderful work they’re known for.

Nonprofits help the most vulnerable people in our community, but they can’t do it alone. So here are a few tips to make the most of your holiday giving.

Only give to legitimate charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax deductible.

It’s OK to start small. Consider making a small cash donation or sign up for monthly giving.

Look for matching gift opportunities. It’s a great way to double the impact of your donation without having to give more of your own hard-earned money.

Also, get involved. Make sure you feel connected to the organizations you donate to by volunteering or taking a tour. You’ll see firsthand how they’re making a difference.

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