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New coronavirus-response funds begin distributing money to Delaware nonprofits

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The Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA), Delaware Community Foundation (DCF), Philanthropy Delaware, and United Way of Delaware (UWDE) have begun distributing money and reviewing applications for the coordinated community initiative they’ve launched to provide both a rapid response and a long-term strategy to address Delaware’s COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has had a ripple effect through the entire nonprofit community. Organizations are having to reorganize and even spend unbudgeted dollars to contend with employees now working from home. They’ve also seen increased demand for services that require upfront payment before they receive reimbursement and had to cancel their largest fundraisers, costing them the upfront expenses they incurred and the revenue that would have paid for their services, said DANA President and CEO Sheila Bravo, whose organization is surveying local nonprofits to assess needs.

The United Way of Delaware distributed the first $150,000 to nine community organizations through its Rapid Response Fund and the Delaware Community Foundation is accepting applications for its first set of grants totaling $250,000 through noon on Monday, March 30 with successful applicants receiving their funds by Friday, April 3.

“These four organizations have met regularly over the past few years to collaborate on various initiatives and saw an opportunity to help ensure people get the funding they need,” Bravo said. “Our goal is to help bridge the gap – and understand the needs so the funding community can quickly respond. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how long this will last, and we need to provide the nonprofit community with a support structure so they can hold onto their people.”

Creation of the funds came together in less than 48 hours after a conference call March 16 between more than 100 nonprofits, government officials, companies, and foundations, UWDE President and CEO Michelle Taylor said.

“I think we’re sending a very clear message to the state that we’re in this together,” DCF President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay added. “All of us are stepping up and it made sense to do it as one initiative.”

“We want to be able to assess the needs accurately so we can invest accordingly,” Philanthropy Delaware President and CEO Cynthia Pritchard said. “We want to support the organizations that need help serving people but also help to stabilize those that may have had to cancel their largest fundraiser or are being asked to provide additional services. We could be under the current environment for the next eight weeks and then in recovery mode for eight months after that.”

UWDE’s Taylor described the initiative as a “two-pronged strategy: taking care of the needs of the community and taking care of the needs of the organization.”

Rapid Response

UWDE is working with Philanthropy Delaware to raise and manage funds that will address immediate needs resulting from the crisis. The fund will focus on alleviating the near-term impact of COVID-19 by working to supplement and support efforts related to children in low-income households, the working poor and seniors.

UWDE has $600,000 in donations so far and distributed $150,000 to nine Delaware organizations on March 27 to the Food Bank of Delaware, Catholic Charities, First State Community Action Agency in Georgetown, West End Neighborhood House, Jewish Family Services, Latin American Community Center, Cheer Activity Center in Georgetown, Modern Maturity Center in Dover, and the Wilmington Senior Center.

Recipients were chosen for the strength of their on-the-ground operations in key population areas across the state, and because each has the scope, scale, and experience to manage emergency relief efforts, a UWDE spokesman said.

The organization has not yet set a funding goal but has received seed funding from organization such as Delmarva Power, Highmark, and the United Way itself.

Donors can contribute to the Rapid Response Fund at www.uwde.org/COVID19, and 100% of all contributions go to the agencies with no admin fees to the United Way.

Strategic Response

DCF and Philanthropy Delaware are assembling funds for a collective response, targeting evolving long-term needs of the state’s most-impacted communities. The DCF will house and manage this fund.

Delaware businesses and foundations have contributed or pledged more than $2 million, including $1 million from the Longwood Foundation, $200,000 from the Welfare Foundation; $150,000 from Barclays; and $100,000 each from the Laffey-McHugh Foundation and Highmark.

DCF’s Comstock-Gay said that Discover Bank, which has a particular focus on computers for nonprofits, has made a grant to NERDiT Now, which is distributing computers through its network to local organizations.

The process for applying for grants from this fund is now open at delcf.org/covid-grants. The deadline for the first round of awards is Monday, March 30, at noon. Only a few grants will be awarded in the first week. Applications will be accepted weekly on a rolling basis, with decisions made Fridays of the same week. Nonprofits can reapply weekly.

The maximum grant request is $50,000. In the first week, a total of $250,000 will be awarded. The total amount to be awarded is expected to increase in subsequent weeks, depending on funding available. Grants from the Strategic Response Fund will initially focus on urgent needs related to COVID-19, then expand over time to more structural and long-term needs in three funding areas:

  • Front-Line Grantsfund nonprofits encountering increased demand for services due to COVID-19. This includes services to people who are financially vulnerable, homeless and facing health challenges.
  • Service-Challenged Grants fund nonprofits that need assistance modifying their service delivery models extremely rapidly due to COVID-19.
  • Collateral Damage Grantsfund nonprofits facing extreme difficulty because of lost revenue due to closures, cancellations and other challenges related to COVID-19.

Applications received by noon on Monday will be reviewed and chosen on Friday of that same week, with funds will be transferred Friday afternoon.

Assessing Community Needs

DANA said March 26 that its survey of 245 nonprofit organizations statewide reported that they estimate a loss of reported revenue at more than $21 million as of March 20.

“Based on the sample size relative to the total number of nonprofits operating in Delaware, we are estimating a loss for just these few weeks of over $100 million,” Bravo said.

Armed with the information from DANA’s assessment, DCF, Philanthropy Delaware, and UWDE will work together to allocate the charitable dollars to have the greatest impact throughout the state.

Donations can also be made at delcf.org/coronavirus.

— By Peter Osborne

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