An extraordinary financial crisis awaits the giving season.

December is rainmaking season for nonprofits, as the largest annual donations traditionally roll in between Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1 in 2020) and New Year’s Eve. This year, the needs of charitable organizations are more urgent than ever.

For more than eight months, the coronavirus has caused the cancellation of marquee fundraising events and scuttled revenue-generating social entrepreneurship ventures, causing widespread financial losses. The situation is more dire for nonprofits in the health and human services sector because they’re dealing with a simultaneous surge in need from vulnerable populations, says Michael Corey, executive director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County, a 102-member advocacy group for social-service organizations.

The Columbus Foundation and the United Way of Central Ohio have provided emergency nonprofit funding, and Columbus and Franklin County added $20 million from their federal CARES Act dollars. But requests for the CARES money—totaling $91 million from 247 local nonprofits, Corey says—outpaced available aid. In an informal survey in October, about two-thirds of the chamber’s members reported losing a combined $61 million in revenue and incurring $21.6 million in COVID-related expenses.

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On Oct. 23, Gov. Mike DeWine made $25 million of the state’s CARES Act money available to nonprofits. But as Corey points out, there are questions about whether all that funding must be spent this year, which limits its efficacy. Furthermore, corporations and philanthropic foundations have signaled cutbacks in giving in 2021 due to the economic fallout. “The bigger fear isn’t actually getting to the end of this year,” Corey says. “It’s what happens next year.”

In short, now is the time to give. Columbus Monthly emailed three nonprofits to see how the pandemic is affecting them and what types of support they need most.

Columbus Early Learning Centers
Enrollment restrictions and safety protocols have reduced CELC’s child care and preschool capacity by 65 percent. Between the associated drop in revenue and anticipated funding losses, the nonprofit projects a 22 percent decrease in total income in 2021, says CEO Gina M. Ginn. Volunteering is limited, so Ginn suggests people create grab-and-go craft activities, buy books from the classroom wishlist (amzn.to/2IrRCcV) or make videos of themselves reading aloud, which staff can play for kids. Donate at columbusearlylearning.org, or contact Amy Deverson Roberts (aroberts@columbusearlylearning.org) to set up a creative volunteering experience.

YMCA of Central Ohio
To reduce the virus’s spread in homeless shelters, the YMCA socially distanced its Van Buren Center by setting up four additional shelters, as well as quarantine housing at a hotel, says chief strategy officer Brandi Braun. Through October, the YMCA had provided shelter for more than 120 people with COVID. Government funding has helped offset annual giving shortfalls, but the nonprofit needs kitchen volunteers, donated meals, art supplies for children and general financial support. To donate, visit ymcacolumbus.org; to volunteer at Van Buren, email vbvolunteer@ymcacolumbus.org.

Godman Guild
While more people were able to access the nonprofit’s adult education, career readiness and youth programming after it went virtual, CEO Ellen Moss says the shutdown cost its two businesses, Camp Mary Orton and Blue Bow Tie Catering, about $625,000. Though Godman made up the bulk through COVID relief funding, corporate donations are uncertain for 2021. To donate personal protective equipment, contact Zach Matthews (zach.matthews@godmanguild.org); visit godmanguild.org for monetary donations.