Nonprofits staying afloat with virtual fundraisers

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — “Those that we support, other local non profits in the community, they’ve really struggled and its been hard,” Sue Grey, president and CEO of United Way of Champaign County, said.

The pandemic has put a stop to big in-person fundraisers. Nonprofit organizations run off donations, but with big in-person fundraisers being canceled, like Octoberfest, they’ve had to become creative.

Two different nonprofit organizations said while overall donations were down a little last year, they still had plenty of donations and couldn’t be more grateful, but are a little sad they aren’t having their big in-person events.

“It was in our best interest to not have an in-person event this year so unfortunately we’re not going to have anything for Octoberfest this year,” Jodie Harmon, with Developmental Services Center, said.

Octoberfest has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this isn’t the first time this has happened.

“We did shift and did a virtual event at last year in 2020, which was very successful for us,” Harmon said.

Non-profit organizations, like Developmental Services Center and the United Way of Champaign County, had to figure out new ways to still have big fundraisers since crowds were no longer allowed.

“We also do a lot of “friendraising” and its relationship building and that’s kind of hard to do in a pandemic, and so we’ve had to pivot and do things a little bit differently,” Grey said.

“Our supporters supported our other events even though we weren’t able to have the larger Octoberfest, so we saw an increase in our other appeals and other fundraising activities we had throughout the year,” Harmon said.

Both groups hosted some virtual events. They say while they were able to get donations, they did see a slight decrease from previous years, but both say they are happy with the amount of donations they’ve received throughout the pandemic.

“Even though we weren’t able to have an in-person event our sponsors stayed with us, our supporters stayed with us, the community members, so we were excited,” Harmon said.

Both non-profits say their sponsors have been helpful keeping them afloat.

“The folks here in Champaign County get it. They understand the importance of taking care of their neighbor,” Grey said.

They say they are grateful to have a community helping one another out during hard times.

“Whatever you can do makes a big difference. No matter how big or how small the gift, they’re all important,” Grey said.

United Way hopes to have an event next summer and DSC plans to have their Tree of Hope event still this year. For more information on the nonprofits, check out the links below.

DSC – https://www.dsc-illinois.org/

United Way of Champaign County – https://www.unitedwaychampaign.org/

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