COVID-19 has created new fundraising challenges for Chilkat Valley nonprofits. While many have had access to coronavirus relief grants through the CARES Act and organizations like the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation (CVCF), others have had to cancel in-person fundraisers, turning to online equivalents to try to make up for lost revenue.

Almost a half million dollars in funding has come into the Chilkat Valley for social service organizations since March, according to CVCF program director Sara Chapell. Roughly $400,000 of the funds were originally from the CARES Act, a federal coronavirus relief bill that passed earlier this year and requires funds be used for expenses incurred in 2020.

“There is some real money coming into nonprofits right now, but that’s all money that needs to be spent by the end of the year,” Chapell said.

This year, many nonprofits have had to cancel in-person fundraisers, a significant source of revenue in a normal year, as a result of COVID-19.

Becky’s Place cancelled its large summer fundraiser due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We have raised around $13,000 at each yearly auction for the past few years, which is a big chunk of our income for Becky’s Place,” director Jackie Mazeikas said.

The organization has also been unable to hold many of its smaller fundraisers, and individual donations are down, Mazeikas said. “If it was not for writing a number of grants, and receiving funding from a few of them, we would have struggled to keep the doors to Becky’s Place open this year.”

Hospice of Haines has had a similar experience.

“We host three events during the spring and summer that provide much of our yearly funding—May’s annual Hospice Rummage Sale, June’s Chilkat to Kluane International Bike Relay checkpoint and July’s Southeast Alaska State Fair dessert booth. All of these events were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions,” director and volunteer coordinator Shannon McPhetres said.

Donations from individuals are also down, McPhetres said, attributing the decline to the economic impacts of the pandemic. She said the organization is currently hosting an online dessert auction through Oct. 15 to try to make up for some of the cancelled events and lost revenue.

The Haines Dolphins Swim Team (HDST) is yet another nonprofit that had to cancel in-person fundraisers.

“The pool closure in mid-March due to COVID-19 prevented the Haines Dolphins Swim Team from holding their annual spring swim-a-thon. The team usually raises about one-third of its annual budget at this event,” president Rich Chapell said, adding that coronavirus relief grants have helped make up for a portion of the losses.

For other nonprofits, fundraising levels are comparable to last year, for now.

Captain Kevin Woods said so far, local donations to the Salvation Army are roughly the same as last year, but he said he worries about the Christmas kettle fundraising campaign.

“Christmas is our big fundraiser of the year. We don’t even know how that’s going to look this year,” Woods said.

In a normal year, Salvation Army staffs kettles outside grocery stores. Woods said the organization often collects a series of small donations from individuals over the course of the holiday season. This year, Woods said he worries it might be difficult to find volunteers to staff the kettles.

“The majority (of volunteers) are senior citizens, who are not comfortable standing there and being exposed to people who walk by. A lot of them are not going to the grocery store, so that throws a big wrench in our gears for Christmas,” Woods said.

Last year, the kettle campaign brought in $16,000, which Woods said helps the organization supply Christmas food boxes and toys to families. It also helps tide the organization over until the summer months.

Woods said the Salvation Army is considering online options for soliciting donations. He said he remains optimistic that they will be able to meet or even exceed last year’s fundraising level.

Sara Chapell said she thinks many local nonprofits are doing okay right now, while the CARES Act funding is still available.

“(CVCF) just closed its regular annual grant cycle. In terms of funding requests, they were on par with past years. That may be just because we’ve done a good job of managing expectations in terms of available grant money, but my hunch is that many organizations feel like they have quite a bit to spend right now, so they may be focused on keeping current programs running and weren’t thinking about new projects for next year,” she said.

For her, the biggest worry is what 2021 will look like for these organizations, in terms of both revenue and demand for services.

“When we do come into January and CARES Act money is no longer available for immediate expenses, what does fundraising look like for these smaller nonprofits? What does demand look like for their services?” Sara Chapell said. “We expect to see some real need in our community this winter, and we’re all bracing for that now.”

Nationwide, nonprofits are reporting declines in fundraising revenue due to COVID-19. A September survey of nearly 1,800 nonprofits found that “forty-two percent of respondents anticipated a high negative impact on fundraising over the next ninety days.” Another 35% expected a “moderate negative impact.”