Nonprofits struggle to find volunteers, funding during the pandemic

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The pandemic’s hit Arizona non-profits especially hard, with many organizations struggling to stay open at a time when they’re needed most.

We learned more from Kristen Merrifield, CEO of the Alliance of Arizona Non-profits.

Merrifield started by sharing about the struggle of originally hearing in March that groups of 10 people or more could not convene. This meant that many fundraisers had to be cancelled, meaning that the fundraising money from those events was gone.

“The revenue loss was staggering,” Merrifield said. “Early in the spring and summer, it was topping $30 million that nonprofits were already seeing in reduction.”

Merrifield said that the organization has seen a lot of success with moving many nonprofits, but she emphasized that several nonprofits are still working at a reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Merrifield stated that some sectors have seen an increase in demand and government funding, such as the Health and Human Services Sector. This sector encompasses services like food banks and frontline services.

However, Merrifield mentioned that the Arts and Culture sector, which includes theatres and museums, have had to completely close down due to a lack of funding.

“We’re really concerned about those sectors,” Merrifield said. “While they may not be on the frontlines, we want to make sure that they’re around to make Arizona a place we all love.”

Merrifield also mentioned that all sectors have seen a reduction in employees and volunteers since the start of the pandemic. The Alliance sent out a poll during the summer, and out of the 500 nonprofits that responded, there were over 1,700 employees that were furloughed. The number was even higher for the loss of volunteers: 37,000 volunteers stepped away from nonprofits due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“So we know a lot of nonprofits in Arizona rely on volunteers to carry out their services,” Merrifield said “[But] volunteers are just not comfortable coming out.”

Merrifield said many volunteers that are comfortable returning to help are still concerned about receiving access to personal protective equipment.

Kristen Merrifield

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