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Nonprofits adapting to fewer donations, but increased demand

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Posted at 10:33 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 10:03:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The United Way of Greater Nashville says they’ve lost donations from “literally thousands of people who are no longer able to contribute,” although demand for services is on the rise.

CEO Brian Hassett said there are thousands of people who have never had to turn to social services before, coming to organizations for help as money gets tight.

“A lot of it has been around making their rent, mortgage, paying their bills,” Hassett said.

It creates a catch-22 scenario for Hassett, who sees realizes these programs need the public’s help to stay afloat in the first place.

You can donate to the United Way of Greater Nashville by clicking here.

Programs like the new remote learning lab at the Martha O’Bryan Center is just one example of how donations are helping Marsha Edwards and her team adapt to COVID-19.

Thanks to a donation from AllianceBernstein, what used to be a space for basketball and community gatherings is now partitioned into 10-by-10 foot squares, each with a desk and computer.

“We’re able to accommodate 18 students at a time, socially distanced in the gym,” Edwards said.

As Metro Nashville Public Schools is in virtual learning, parents can now take their children to the center for one-on-one help with their lessons. Jihan Strange is a program coordinator and was called to help oversee it all.

“Here parents and students can get that support. We walk them through the entire process,” Strange said.

Edwards said they’re not unlike most nonprofits around the country who’ve seen a decrease of nearly 20% when it comes to their incoming donations. In her case, it’s meant losing some staff while they work to keep all their programs functioning.

“We are grateful to AllianceBernstein for the emergency funding that made this solution come together quickly for our students. This is a difficult and distracting time to be a student, and now our kids can get the support they need,” Edwards said.

Public funding from the federal coronavirus relief bill helped nonprofits make up for the money they lost in donations, but it was never meant to be a long-term solution.

“We’ve deployed over $40 million dollars in CARES Act funds through the state of Tennessee and we’re in the process of deploying about $10 million from Davidson County,” Hassett said.

Much of the money will be spent on housing and rental assistance programs, which Hassett says makes up the majority of services families need. They will also help with daycare for those who are first responders and essential workers.

As with everything else in 2020, Hassett knows they have to adapt to meet demand and need your help to do so.