Area nonprofits struggling during pandemic to get help

Tania Harris, a Foodbank employee, distributes food behind the Montgomery County Courts building in New Lebanon.JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Dayton-area nonprofit organizations that face intense pandemic-related economic challenges are getting much needed help with federal assistance funding provided to the city and Montgomery County.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofit organizations have seen charitable giving decline, demand for services increase and budget woes have led to lay offs.

Dayton leaders want to help as many 501(c)(3) groups as they can stay afloat, and the city’s efforts are on top of the $10 million Montgomery County already has set aside to help these types of organizations.

“Nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID (have) opportunities to receive funding from the city of Dayton,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

Montgomery County has approved nearly $7.7 million in funding to 102 nonprofit organizations, with dozens of more applications pending approval.

Nonprofits employ tens of thousands of people in the Dayton region, and 12.2 million people nationwide, which is a larger workforce than all but two U.S. industries, according to researchers with Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies.

Nonprofits can apply

This week, the city of Dayton issued a notice of funding opportunities for nonprofit organizations that have been severely harmed by the crisis or that provide important services and assistance during it.

Dayton’s new community organizations relief fund will provide grants to defray costs related to COVID-19, like cleaning and sanitation, new or expanded technology or loss of income from cancelled or postponed activities.

The money comes from the CARES Act, the massive stimulus package approved by federal lawmakers. Dayton has been awarded more than $17 million over three funding rounds.

Groups may be eligible for assistance if they have experienced a gross revenue loss of more than 50% or if they have increased costs because of the virus, city documents state.

They also may qualify if they demonstrate an ability to provide pandemic-relief services or assistance.

Coronavirus emergency

Millions of people who normally donate money are out of work and can’t afford to give, said Rick Cohen, chief operating officer with the National Council of Nonprofits.

The federal CARES Act provided some financial relief to smaller nonprofits that helped maintain their payrolls, but most of that money has run out and nonprofits need immediate additional relief, Cohen said.

Nonprofit organizations also are worried that revenue declines will force governments to slash their budgets, which also could reduce the amount of funding they get to serve their communities, he said.

Dayton already expected to spend more than $2 million on community assistance through two rounds of CARES Act funding. But the city has been awarded a third pot of money (about $5 million), some of which also will be used for community assistance.

Like with its funding for arts groups, the city deliberately has not put limits on the amount of grant money organizations can request, said Monica Jones, assistant to Dayton’s city manager.

The city also has not determined how much of its federal coronavirus relief funding (CARES Act money) it will dedicate to nonprofits, she said.

“Once again we’re truly trying to hear from the community as to the magnitude of impact as a result of the coronavirus,” she said.

The notice of funding opportunities closes on Oct. 19.

County gives money

Montgomery County’s CARES Act nonprofits grant program received about 195 applications requesting assistance. More than half of the applications were approved, and about 22 were denied, according to Montgomery County Business Services.

The rest are still under review or on hold, awaiting supporting documents.

The Foodbank, which became a direct distributer of food assistance when up to 70% of its partner agencies were forced to close, received a $661,000 grant through the county.

The Foodbank held it's mass food distribution Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 at the University of Dayton Welcome Stadium.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

From March through September, The Foodbank has helped feed more than 93,000 households — and many more not counted due to a pandemic waiver on reporting requirements, according to Lee Lauren Truesdale, The Foodbank’s chief development officer.

“Things have stabilized, but need remains high," she said. “We are still seeing many first-time emergency food assistance users in October, months into the pandemic. We hear often from families who have been forced to leave their jobs to help teach their children at home through distance learning and we hear regularly from seniors who are afraid to leave their home still.”

Other nonprofits receiving county CARES Act dollars include Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, which is using a $99,900 to provide legal help to those facing evictions. The Boys and Girls Club of Dayton and United Way of the Greater Dayton Area also received grants exceeding $99,000, along with others. More modest grants went to several area churches.

The county received an initial allocation of $92.77 million in CARES Act funds to distribute. Currently, $14.2 million has been distributed and another $49.2 million encumbered for programs that also aid small businesses, schools, farmers, daycare and health care providers, as well as help people make rent, mortgage and utility payments.

Montgomery County residents and organizations can find more information about the county’s programs and how to apply at mcohiocares.org.

Major employers

Several years ago, about 38,620 people in Montgomery County were employed by nonprofits, or about 17.3% of the private workforce, according to the most recent from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 12.2% of Ohio workers (564,000 people) work for nonprofits.

Nationally, the U.S. nonprofit sector employs more people than all industries except retail trade and accommodation and food services, says the Center for Civil Society Studies.

However, nonprofit employers shed an estimated 1.6 million jobs early in the pandemic between March and May, according to the Center for Civil Society Studies. While nonprofit employment has rebounded, it remains nearly 977,000 jobs below February’s level.

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