More than 100 viewers affiliated with, or concerned about the fate of, nonprofit organizations facing bracing challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic tuned in on October 15 for a Schar School of Policy and Government panel discussion called “Nonprofits vs. COVID-19: Sustaining Nonprofits Through Corporate and Foundation Partnerships—the Current Picture.”
The webinar was hosted by the Schar School’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and was moderated by professor of government and interim director of the MPA program Alan Abramson, who teaches a variety of nonprofit management classes.
Abramson explained that the webinar was organized to give nonprofits information about partnership opportunities with corporations and foundations, including up-to-date intelligence about how these partnerships have changed during the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar was co-hosted by Strategic Support for Nonprofits. A recording will be available.
Abramson began the webinar with data about the new demands that the pandemic is putting on nonprofits and the strains many of these nonprofits are experiencing. A survey of large and mid-size nonprofits conducted by Independent Sector found that 83 percent of responding nonprofits suffered reductions in revenue, with 71 percent of the organizations reducing services as a result.
Nonprofits themselves lost 1.6 million jobs in the first three months of the pandemic according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Johns Hopkins University.
At the same time, more recent reports on fundraising from CCS Fundraising and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) give some reason for optimism, with the FEP reporting that charitable giving in the first half of 2020 was 7.5 percent above the same period last year.
Abramson then turned to the four panelists to report on their organizations’ philanthropic activities, how these activities have been affected by the pandemic, and the panelists’ tips for nonprofits seeking funding today.
Brooke Oberwetter, head of external affairs at Amazon’s new HQ2 in Arlington, Va., described her company’s Amazon in the Community (AITC) program which is an umbrella initiative that includes “Right Now Needs” programming in food security, housing, and disaster relief. Amazon also supports computer science and STEM education and awards grants to writers through its Amazon Literary Partnership program. Oberwetter also works with communities to find where Amazon can provide help outside its AITC initiatives.
Lynn Tadlock, deputy executive director of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, discussed her foundation’s work, especially in the Loudoun County area, and also highlighted the foundation’s Claude Moore Scholars Program that helps train health care workers, including nurses, medical lab technicians, pharmacists, and others.
Michael Coogan, vice president and director of corporate responsibility at Leidos, a government contractor that works in defense, civil, health, intelligence, and other areas, explained that Leidos is a global company with about a third of its 38,000 employees located in the Washington, D.C., region. Coogan indicated that many of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives bubble up from its workforce, including affinity groups focused on veterans, women, people with disabilities, and others. He advised nonprofits to do their research about the partnership interests that corporations have and look for matches with the nonprofits’ own missions. Coogan explained that Leidos has itself been negatively affected by the pandemic but that the company has still been active in recent months in partnering with the Centers for Disease Control Foundation and working on racial justice, mental health, and distance learning issues.
Michael Bigley, director of the Venable Foundation, offered a variety of tips for nonprofits seeking support, including encouraging them to write proposals that describe their “home runs” upfront; pair data about their programs with persuasive stories; and be clear about the value they are adding to communities and that they are not duplicating the efforts of other nonprofits.
The webinar was sponsored by Yoko Co., a digital marketing firm, and Insperity, which helps nonprofits and businesses with HR assistance.