Nonprofit organizations in Forsyth County are reporting varied impacts to their fundraising efforts and donations as they provide relief in communities during the coronavirus outbreak.

Several nonprofits said they are receiving donations, but still facing challenges because of the virus.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina has seen an increase in giving, said Eric Aft, the food bank’s chief executive.

Across the 18 counties that the food bank serves, there has been a 40% increase in new families seeking help since the COVID-19 crisis began, Aft said, but in local cities such as Winston-Salem and Greensboro, the jump in the percentage of people requesting services ranges from 50% to 100%.

“We have seen people really respond to the fact that they understand that the need for food assistance has jumped significantly and that it is reaching critical levels for many in our community,” Aft said.

However, Second Harvest has not been able to hold food drives and a national drive done by postal workers that is usually in May was postponed.

“We traditionally get tens of thousands of pounds of food from that drive alone, much less the many other drives that we hold throughout the year,” Aft said. “The companies and neighborhoods that do drives (have)come close to drying up for us.”

He expects this and other challenges to continue for months to come even if the stay-at-home order is lifted.

Aft added that a virtual food drive campaign, FeedCommunityNOW.org, that allows people to make donations online to help Second Harvest purchase food has been a benefit.

Crisis Control

So far, Crisis Control Ministry, a provider of emergency assistance, has not inundated with requests and is holding its own, said Margaret Elliott, the organization’s executive director.

“I hope that what is happening is that folks have gotten their stimulus money,” Elliott said. “Maybe they are receiving unemployment benefits. Maybe they have received their income tax refund and are able to have those other resources that have been made available to all of us to take care of our basic life needs.”

Her fear is that some companies will not be able to survive the pandemic, causing people to completely lose their jobs.

If that happens, she expects to start hearing from those people in coming months.

The annual Hope du Jour in which participating restaurants donate 10% of their proceeds to Crisis Control was postponed from May 5 to Sept. 8.

Crisis Control Ministry received a $100,000 grant from the COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County that will be a big help to the nonprofit, and several individual donors have stepped up their giving, Elliott said.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, The Salvation Army of Greater Winston-Salem “saw donations really drop off a cliff as people began to be laid off,” said Bob Campbell, director of marketing and public relations.

“Fear stopped everything.”

But because people got a better idea of what was happening and The Salvation Army adapted to the conditions of the stay-at-home orders, he said, April was a good month in terms of donations for the nonprofit.

“Folks have been very generous, opening their hearts to the families and individuals that we serve at The Salvation Army…and opening their wallets.”

The organization has been open the entire time of the pandemic and has expanded its feeding services.

“We are now delivering meals to the members of our senior programs, taking meals to their homes, and distributing prepared meals in a partnership with our friends at Rooster’s A Noble Grille restaurant,” Campbell said.

But the summer months are coming when donations tend to dry up for nonprofits.

Salvation Army officials expect an increased need into next year for the families and individuals the organization serves due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

The Salvation Army’s major fundraiser of the year, The Hands & Hearts luncheon, has been switched from an in-person event to a virtual luncheon on May 12.

Closed stores

Nonprofits such as Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina and Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County depend on the stores they operate to generate revenue.

Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina’s 50 stores have been closed since March 26 and just over 800 employees have been on furlough.

“Those are our source of funds,” Jaymie A. Eichorn, interim vice president of marketing and communications, said of the stores.

The organization’s 18 career centers, also closed since late March, shifted to virtual services at www.goodwill-cares.org, providing such offerings as career assistance, virtual job fairs and virtual job-search workshops.

Plans are to reopen the stores and career centers during the week of May 11.

“We actually meet every single day to discuss how we are taking care of our employees and how we are looking after our donors, because donors are still coming,” Eichorn said.

Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County’s ReStores have been closed since March 25.

“The stores’ revenue is our operating revenue,” said Mike Campbell, executive director of the local Habitat. “We have been blessed enough to have saved and created reserves to cover us during that shutdown.”

If the local and state stay-at-home orders are lifted May 8, the ReStores will open May 9.

Campbell said that there are still a lot of uncertainties for all nonprofits because of COVID-19, including the size of a large group for events.

“One thing it has done is it has drug us kicking and screaming into more virtual fundraising and utilizing online funding more,” Campbell said. “A lot of us old school fundraisers like that handshake and that touch, that face-to-face.”

But he believes the changes will open new doors for new ideas.

Helping animals

Both H.E.R.O. Horse Education and Rescue Organization and the Forsyth Humane Society have tried or are considering new ways to raise money for their nonprofits.

Michelle Bednar, the president of H.E.R.O., said that the completely volunteer-based organization has four major fundraisers from spring throughl early fall and two have already been canceled.

“We’ve lost easily 50 percent of our income for the year,” Bednar said.

Typically H.E.R.O., which receives support from horse organizations, gets donations from four large horse shows through the Thoroughbred Training Center in Mocksville through sponsorships of riders and a concession stand.

On Monday, the organization hopes to do an online auction for equipment, and has plans soon for Zoom visits.

One of the biggest impacts to the Forsyth Humane Society amid the virus was the cancellation of a 5K dog walk and run fundraiser on May 2. Last year, the event attracted between 300 to 400 people, about 150 dogs and one cat.

This year, the Forsyth Humane Society went virtual May 2 with the Mutt Strut Walk & 5K Run and received registrants from as far away as Florida.

Amid the virus crisis, people have been donating supplies and gifts to the Forsyth Humane Society, which is operating out of one location at 5570 Sturmer Park Circle, said Sarah Williamson, the nonprofit’s executive director.

“It’s a great opportunity for people who are working from home and have the kids home from school to foster an animal and also to adopt,” Williamson said. “Fostering is a huge help for us.”

fdaniel@wsjournal.com

336-727-7366

@fdanielWSJ

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