NC nonprofits see increased demand, decreased resources through pandemic


RALEIGH, North Carolina (WNCN) – Nonprofits across the state have taken a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them are now having to provide more support than ever while seeing a decrease in resources.

Empowerment Inc. in Chapel Hill focuses on helping people get back on their feet. They place people in affordable housing owned by the organization. They also allow small businesses to operate out of their Midway business center until the are stable enough to move out to their own location.

Many of those small businesses had to close their doors with the stay at home orders.

Families getting help from the organization are more in need than ever.

“The folks that were already having issues with their housing, making ends meet, it has gotten worse,” said Dolores Baily, executive director Empowerment Inc.

Empowerment Inc. owns 57 rental units. They’ve waived their rent for now but they know it’s the not same for everyone.

The organization planned to start on a $2 million capital campaign for an affordable housing development. Those plans are now put on hold.

“We haven’t even gotten in line for the planning process and for the planning department. What we’re doing now is just collecting. What we’re doing now is just collecting the money. The intention is to raise the money first and to do the building after that. We were really hopeful this year was going to bring us a couple hundred thousand dollars to the table,” Bailey said.

Nonprofits face hurdles

Bailey’s organization is not the only nonprofit seeing impacts.

The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits surveyed their members in March. It found the following:

  • 88% of respondents have had to cancel programs or events and have lost revenue from this
  • 74% have had a disruption of services to clients
  • 70% are suffering budgetary challenges due to the economic impacts of COVID-19
  • 57% are having challenges with staff working remotely
  • 43% are challenged by staff and volunteer absences.

Their survey showed nonprofits are most in need of help with funding. Some nonprofits like museums have had to shut down completely eliminating a majority of their funding source. Others are seeing a decrease in monetary donations from the public.

While less money is coming in, organizations with physical locations still have to pay for rent or mortgages on those properties.

The capability for an organization and their clients to have access to and use technology is another hurdle. Lack of hardware, training and tech support are big issues according to the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

Help trickles in for organizations

The United Way of the Greater Triangle helped raised $1 million for their Rapid Response Program. It has distributed about half of that money since March. Donations are still accepted. Click here to help.

Empowerment Inc. was one of those recipients. Bailey said they used those fund to bring food gift cards to clients. They also used it to buy sanitary supplies for their small business partners so they could stay safe into Phase 2.

Some money is being set aside to help families with their utilities.

“The utility companies have said no shut-offs and that’s good. As soon as that is lifted, people are not only going to have to worry about their rent but their utilities as well. And so we are willing to help people with those utility bills- probably June or July – whenever the utility companies lift that,” said Bailey.

She hoped nonprofits like her own will start to see more donations coming in. She said every dollar counts and every dollars goes right back into the community to help families directly through the pandemic.

“We can’t help everyone but we try really, really hard.”

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