Strengthening Nonprofit Effectiveness

Posted on Jun 7, 2021 by

A grant provided Samaritan Counseling therapists with noise cancelling headsets for virtual mental health appointments.

The Community Foundation spent a lot of time during the last year talking to our nonprofit partners and learning about their challenges, innovations, and outright determination in weathering the pandemic. Two frequently recurring words dominated these conversations: technology and fundraising.

Nonprofits have been forced to lean on technology like never before to continue critical service delivery, fundraising, and support of remote workers. And they have had to figure out how to pay the bills after fundraising took a nosedive when in-person fundraising events were canceled.

Local COVID Relief Grant Recipients

African Heritage
American Red Cross
Bella Medical Clinic
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass
Berlin Community Daycare & Preschool
Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin
Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh
Boys & Girls Club of the Tri-County Area
Catalpa Health
Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services
Community for Hope of Greater Oshkosh
Day By Day Warming Shelter
Discovery Preschool
Evergreen Foundation
Father Carr’s Place 2B
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
Fox River Industries
Friends of Freeland Foundation
Friendship Place
Future Neenah
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church–Ripon
Grace Preschool
The Grand Oshkosh
Greater Oshkosh Healthy Neighborhoods
Green Lake County Health and Human Services
Green Lake Festival of Music
Habitat for Humanity of Oshkosh
Jake’s Diapers
Jericho Road Ministries
Lourdes Academy
Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin
Miravida Living
NAMI Oshkosh
NEW Mental Health Connection
New Pawsibilities
Omro Care Center
Options for Independent Living
Oshkosh Area Community Pantry
Oshkosh Area Humane Society
Oshkosh Area School District
Oshkosh Community YMCA
Oshkosh Kids Foundation
Oshkosh Seniors Center
Paine Art Center and Gardens
Park View Health Center
Peace Christian Preschool
Ripon Children’s Learning Center
Salvation Army–Green Lake + Ripon
Salvation Army–Oshkosh
Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley
Solutions Recovery
Thrasher Opera House
Tri-County Community Dental Clinic
Winnebago Area Literacy Council
Winnebago Conflict Resolution Center

To help provide nonprofits with as much flexibility, certainty, and stability as possible, the Community Foundation:

  • Added new options for general operating support.
  • Established emergency funds for COVID-related expenses.
  • Offered nonprofit adaptation grants for technology and consulting.
  • Relaxed restrictions on current grants.
  • Introduced more flexible grant application deadlines.
  • Reduced reporting burdens.

These changes helped to build grantee capacity to not only survive the COVID crisis but to come out of it better positioned to achieve strategic goals and aspirations.

Jason Presto, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Tri-County Area, sums it up well. “As the Club scrambled to shift its service delivery model and continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers, so did the Community Foundation. Their willingness to shift giving practices and meet organizations, such as ours, where we were, was critical to our continue ability to stay relevant, maintain momentum and increase impact.”

When discussing technology, we heard many nonprofits say, “We don’t know what we don’t know” — leaving them confused, overwhelmed, or paralyzed about where to start. This inspired us to offer free technology assessments and coaching in addition to grants.

“Like so many small non-profit organizations we do not have the benefit of staff that specializes in technology and have gotten by with hand-me-down recommendations and hardware in the past. I can’t say enough about how wonderful it has been to get help from someone with tech knowledge that understands nonprofit needs. It’s been such a relief to know I’m spending the organization’s money in the best/smartest way,” shares Nikki Hessel, Executive Director at Future Neenah.

A total of $1,108,900 in COVID relief has been awarded to date with the majority of support coming from the Oshkosh COVID-19 Relief Fund, the Basic Needs Giving Partnership/U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, and the Community Impact Fund. Of that amount, $716,500 was for general operating support, $211,390 was for technology enhancements, and $181,000 was for specific COVID-related needs.

Grants have supported a wide range of needed improvements including:

  • Technology for telehealth appointments, virtual learning, and social connection for isolated individuals
  • Virtual fundraising and volunteer management software
  • Audio-visual equipment for livestreaming performances and fitness classes
  • Migration to cloud-based systems to improve remote employee collaboration and productivity.

While there was plenty of stress associated with making so many changes at lightning speed, the ingenuity and irrepressible spirit that we’ve witnessed during the last year has reinforced our belief that great opportunity can come from crisis.

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