With donations down and need up, Hawaii’s nonprofits get creative to make ends meet

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Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The COVID-19 pandemic forced AccesSurf to cancel its big fundraising events this year. So the nonprofit cut costs, including by moving to smaller office space.

“We’ve always kept a slim budget to begin with,” executive director Cara Short said. “We’ve been making it through this time. But our projections in to the future is what’s concerning for us.”

Other nonprofits are in the same position.

The Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations believes now more then ever not-for-profit organizations must use creative means to raise funds. Many of them are hurting, with donations down and need up.

“Certainly, the smaller non-profits that maybe before the pandemic were already with limited cash reserves are probably very challenged right now to keep going, with a lot of the revenue sources for nonprofits drying up,” HANO president Lisa Maruyama said.

That could mean nonprofits combining their operations to save on overhead, or full-on mergers happening between some organizations. “We may not see evidence of that for maybe a couple of months more, maybe into early 2021,” Maruyama said.

Women Speaking Out canceled its gala, a bowling tournament and smaller fundraising events. It’s using other avenues to spread the word that it needs contributions.

“Because of the difficulty of the pandemic we’ve really upped our digital media game. We just came out with a brand new website. And we’ve also done a lot of social media,” Amber Stone Napoleon said.

Donors are responding to WSO’s “Speak Love” campaign by buying gift boxes filled with totes, masks and other swag that will go to domestic violence shelters.

Napoleon said the nonprofit is also casting a wider net by targeting groups outside of its usual audience.

“We’ve actually gotten some great monetary donations from people that maybe wouldn’t have heard the message in a normal situation,” she said.

There’s also good news for AccesSurf.

Short said many donors made good on their commitments despite the cancelling of its two big annual fundraisers. AccesSurf also exceeded its $40,000 goal for buying a new vehicle.

“We are now able to actually purchase our new equipment van and completely outfit it so we’ll be ready to run our program,” she said.

Despite successes non-profits are under a lot of stress. Some have switched their annual strategic planning to month-to-month. That’s the new normal.

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