Hawaii non-profits hold on to hope, but recognize challenges ahead in the new year

Hawaii nonprofits like The Big Island Giving Tree see greater need in 2021.
Hawaii nonprofits like The Big Island Giving Tree see greater need in 2021.(HNN)
Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 7:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Community Foundation helped distribute more than $55 million in federal CARES act dollars to local nonprofits over the past few months. A large chunk of that went to local food banks.

“That tells us that families really need the basic needs. Food on the table has been critical,” said Michelle Kauhane, Senior Vice President of Community Grants and Initiatives for Hawaii Community Foundation.

Hawaii farmers and ranchers also got big checks to keep local products in those food distribution boxes. Other funds went to nonprofits that help the vulnerable.

Kauhane sees a steep uphill climb for nonprofits in 2021 with donations challenged by a lagging economy, but need soaring.

“I do think it’s going to be a rough first quarter for the nonprofit sector. There’s a need in the community. As that need escalates and the level of funding decreases, we have this perfect storm of we really need to come together as a community to address those issues,” she said.

“It’s going to be scarier times,” said Rhonda Bell, co-coordinator of The Big Island Giving Tree.

The nonprofit feeds kupuna and responds to disasters. Bell says need is growing so they asked for help to keep serving.

“This pandemic has been going on for months and months and months and being that our finances are totally dependent on donations and people being able to give, this is the very first time we had to reach out to grants,” said Bell.

Grants, community partnerships and a virtual fundraiser helped the nonprofit stay on track with its finances without pulling back on helping those who need it most.

“So after we deliver all of these meals, they have a moment of hope and they feel love,” she said.

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