How to Get Coronavirus Financial Support for Nonprofits

|9 min read Nonprofit Tips

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the nation, nonprofits should prepare for a significant decrease in donations in the coming months. Looking at information and data from the 2008 Great Recession in the United States, a Stanford study found that nonprofits felt an enormous hit with a 7% decrease in charitable giving in 2008. Charitable giving continued to decline by an additional 6% the following year. 

While the future is uncertain, if we are indeed headed towards a new global recession, nonprofits will need to adapt to stay afloat. This may mean that your organization has to cancel nonprofit events and run a virtual fundraiser instead, or find different revenue sources altogether. With that in mind, know that our team is here to help provide you with the resources you need to keep your nonprofit up and running. Below we’ve compiled a list of options that offer coronavirus financial support for nonprofits.

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Important coronavirus resources for nonprofits and charities

When narrowing down the most important resources for nonprofits during the coronavirus outbreak, we wanted to include new and existing ways of finding financial assistance—from brand new tax relief programs to grants that have existed for years. By diversifying the ways in which your nonprofit seeks support during the coronavirus pandemic, this should ensure that your organization is able to find the help it needs in a timely manner. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that your nonprofit has the tools you need to continue helping people and places in need. 

1. Enroll in government aid programs and apply for grants

There are a number of ways and programs that want to help nonprofits during the coronavirus outbreak. New government aid programs for nonprofits are expected to become available through the coronavirus relief bill that is still developing. As we wait for a formal coronavirus relief bill to provide relief to individuals, businesses, and nonprofits here are a few options your organization can consider:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package that offers businesses and nonprofits loans of up to $10 million to help keep current employees on the payroll, or hire employees that had to be laid off. The interest rate for these loans is 1% and they can be eligible for forgiveness.
  • The federal grants program, Grants.gov, has a simple search feature you can use to find grants for nonprofits with or without 501(c)(3) status through the IRS. From there, narrow down your search by category and find grants that would be best suited for your nonprofit’s specialty. 
  • Grantwatch and SAM.gov are two helpful resources for nonprofits looking for assistance. Much like the federal grants program above, you can filter both platforms by a number of different variables to see grants that apply to your nonprofit.
  • Specific states may be offering different types of coronavirus aid for nonprofits and small businesses. Check with your local chamber of commerce to see how financial relief options develop in coming weeks and months.

2. Look into community foundations in your local area

Many local community foundations have started relief fundraisers to provide additional money to nonprofits that are actively working to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Be sure to check in with local community foundations to see if they are offering grants to nonprofits located within your community. This community foundation locator and the Foundation Directory Online are both great resources to discover foundations near you.

  • The Omaha Community Foundation has set up a community relief fund to benefit nonprofits in their area. Donations to the relief fund will be paid out to nonprofit organizations as one-time grants to help fund the nonprofits that are continuing to assist residents and those who are the most vulnerable populations to COVID-19.
  • To benefit nonprofits in Washington state, the Seattle Foundation will be providing grants to community organizations that have historically helped residents who are most susceptible during this time of crisis. The first wave of grants will be focused on organizations that work with people of color, healthcare and hourly workers, folks without access to health insurance, and community members whose second language is English.
  • GoFundMe.org has set up a general relief fund for both individuals and organizations affected by COVID-19. Money donated to the COVID-19 Relief Fund will be paid out to organizations that are helping keep people safe, find a COVID-19 cure, or support local communities. The fund also helps individuals who have been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

3. Ask supporters to start a coronavirus relief campaign for you

If you prefer not to take out a loan, crowdfunding is a great alternative. Your nonprofit can start a crowdfunding campaign on a peer-to-peer fundraising platform where supporters in your network can donate to cover costs for your nonprofit, directly. You can even ask supporters to start individual campaigns of their own where all donations benefit your nonprofit. This gives supporters a simple and actionable way to help if they aren’t sure how to make a difference elsewhere in their communities. This may also be very helpful if you need emergency funding to cover expenses at this time.”

Be sure to share your campaign across social media and email so that your supporters know how they can best support your organization. As a jumping-off point, you can ask supporters who were going to attend a past or future fundraising event if they would be willing to turn the cost of their ticket into donations for your nonprofit, given the unique circumstances.

4. Take out a nonprofit business loan to cover immediate costs

While this may not be the ideal solution, nonprofits can take out a business loan to cover operating costs. Keep in mind that this global health and economic crisis will be temporary. Taking out a loan to cover overhead costs may be a great temporary solution to keep your nonprofit up and running for the long haul. 

In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Small Business Association has announced that it will be providing disaster assistance loan options to nonprofits who are not able to acquire lines of credit elsewhere. The interest rates on these loans will be 2.75% for nonprofits and can be paid back over 30 years to maintain affordability. 

5. See which tax relief programs apply to your nonprofit

Numerous new tax relief programs have been announced since the coronavirus outbreak began. Below is a summary of the tax relief programs that may apply to your nonprofit organization:

  • The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it will be providing a coronavirus tax relief to individuals and small businesses that are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Certain credit card providers are offering coronavirus assistance programs to help customers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations that have been affected by COVID-19. If you already have a credit card for your nonprofit, check in with your card issuer to see what specific relief options are available for your situation.
  • For advice on other financial relief options that may be available for your nonprofit, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling is offering financial counseling options for nonprofits encountering difficult times.

6. Maximize corporate giving programs

During times of need, it’s important to reach out to longtime donors to see if they are able to help support your nonprofit. Keep in mind that not all industries are being negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and companies or individuals that are doing well may be looking to help those who are struggling with funding. If you already have a corporate giving program in place to benefit your nonprofit, consider reaching out to businesses and organizations that already support your nonprofit to let them know how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting your mission. 

Some companies may even be saving money in the midst of the crisis, by having employees work remotely and keeping traditional office expenses down. Ideally, corporations will be able to increase their annual giving to your nonprofit, or perhaps, they can make a large one-time donation to get your nonprofit through this difficult time. Overall, if you reach out to those among your communities the response you will receive from those groups in this time will be very helpful to your nonprofit.

7. Cut out all non-essential costs

While not technically a new resource, re-evaluating and re-allocating your budget is a crucial first step in a time of crisis to determine updated monthly overhead costs. With individuals staying inside, your employees are likely also working from home. This means that water and utility bills will be at a minimum, although you will still have to cover the rent for your office space. 

Outside of that, the essentials that must be paid are website costs, essential employees’ wages, sick time for employees, and insurance coverage. You can cut marketing budgets, office supplies, and costly events to accommodate for low donation volume during this crisis. Be sure to evaluate your organization’s spending to see if there are any additional unique costs that can be paused while the coronavirus pandemic affects global markets. The Nonprofit Finance Fund has a helpful cash flow tool to assist you in determining your nonprofit’s current flow of money. 

8. Ask for in-kind donations from supporters and companies

If supporters aren’t able to give monetary donations, you can ask for in-kind donations as an alternative. In-kind donations are made up of goods and services rather than cash. Depending on the focus of your nonprofit or charity, in-kind donations may be very useful during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, if the focus of your nonprofit work is to feed the homeless, in-kind donations of extra canned goods can be just as impactful as monetary donations. If cities continue shelter-in-place protocols, there’s a strong likelihood that people will be cleaning out and organizing their houses. Strategically ask for in-kind donations on your nonprofit social media accounts so that supporters know where to send their extra supplies. 

Make sure you have strict sanitation and social distancing procedures in place when collecting any donated goods during the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC has kindly provided thorough Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for coronavirus. 

Stay focused on a better tomorrow

By encouraging individuals to fundraise for nonprofits during this difficult time, we can aim for a bright future as the world stabilizes after coronavirus. For most nonprofits, the cause that they serve will not disappear amidst the COVID-19 outbreak—if anything, it will only become more critical. If you haven’t already, claim your nonprofit on GoFundMe Charity to start crowdfunding for your nonprofit today. 

Start COVID-19 relief campaign