COVID-19 Response: Nonprofit Needs Cash

The Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties has established a Community Emergency Relief Fund, working to gather money to respond to the crisis, and to figure out where best to put that money.

But human services nonprofits are facing one of the greatest challenges they ever have—and Community Foundation Director Amy Owen said giving “needs to be much more robust.”

“I think at this stage, and rightly so, a lot of people are funneling their gifts direct to the charities, and so I can’t fault people for that,” Owen said. “What we’re trying to prepare for are the individuals who lose their jobs, and have rent, mortgage, car payments, utility bills, that they’re going to have to pay, and work with some of the local nonprofits to get money into their hands.”

Donations may be made online at communityfoundationlf.org.

Loudoun Hunger Relief Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery said for safety’s sake she has sent all of the nonprofit’s volunteers home, and has completely reorganized how it distributes meals. Now, people who come to the pantry are getting prepackaged meals provided outside the door.

And at a time when more people are seeing their paychecks disappear, a major source of food donations is also taking a nosedive.

“For us, about 55 percent of what we give out in donations comes from our grocery stores,” Montgomery said. “And so there’s been a significant decrease in food donations from the grocery stores, because obviously the grocery store is grappling with panic buying and empty shelves.”

But that does not mean it’s necessarily time to donate food—Loudoun Hunger Relief can make the money spent buying food to donate go a lot farther.

“Cash is king, and we have the ability to buy food at a far greater discount in bulk, so your dollar goes as lot farther with us than it would if you go and purchase it off of Amazon or something like that,” Montgomery said. “We have the ability to make that go a little bit further.”

“I think this is the time to reach into the pocketbooks,” Owen said. “I think that gifts of time are harder to offer because of the fact that we need to maintain social distancing. But the nonprofits are having to furlough employees, they are not hosting galas and fundraising events, so that income is going to be lost.”

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