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Health Team

Local nonprofits suffer as coronavirus cancels spring fundraisers

Posted April 6, 2020 9:45 p.m. EDT
Updated April 7, 2020 8:46 a.m. EDT

Many non-profit fundraising organizations now hope to stay afloat after "social distancing" restrictions have led to canceled or postponed events.

Last year in North Carolina, a variety of head-shaving events helped raise $627,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation to help fight childhood cancer.

This year, St. Baldrick's as well as many other fundraising organizations fear their ability to advance noble causes will fall far short of goals.

"We are trying to collectively to solve some of the biggest challenges for mankind today," said Kathleen Ruddy, the chief executive officer of St. Baldrick's Foundation.

She says the nonprofit sector accounts for 20% of the national economy. That was before the pandemic.

"I think every nonprofit is challenged today," said Ruddy.

St. Baldrick's recent annual revenue reached up to $38 million. Forty percent of that total is raised in the month of March.

Ruddy say in North Carolina alone, 20 planned fundraising events have been canceled. That means an estimated $400,000 in lost donations that would have provided the funding for research grants.

"But more critically, kids with cancer are depending upon that work for their treatment to secure their futures," said Ruddy. Now her foundation depends more upon "virtual" events and fundraising challenges through social media.

This year just happens to be St. Baldrick's 20th anniversary. Ruddy expects more people who would normally donate $100 or more might be more reluctant to donate in an uncertain post-pandemic economy.

That's why they've refocused on more modest donations of just $20, if not more. Ruddy says it's an effort "to help ensure that the research pipeline survives and is intact for kids to get the futures they deserve."

Ruddy adds that fundraising organizations now have limited resources, "Because donors always prefer that the money go to direct services or programs versus saving a little for a rainy day."

That kind of thinking, she says, needs to change so that the organizations might be better prepared to endure a year like this one.

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