Nonprofits seek to cut costs, raise funds in light of restrictions

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The pandemic is taking a toll on more than just businesses and people’s paychecks.

Nonprofits are also taking a hard hit.

A number of nonprofits throughout Hancock County have been forced to cancel their annual spring fundraisers, some losing out on tens of thousands of dollars that is critical to their operations.

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Agape Therapeutic Riding preemptively canceled its spring golf outing, scheduled for June, which typically generates around $40,000.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hancock County canceled its Bowling to Build a Better Future event, which was expected to bring in $10,000 to $15,000 on April 24.

The Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen had to cancel a handful of spring fundraisers.

Hancock County Senior Services, called off its biggest fundraiser of the year, Bingo & BBQ, which would have been held Monday.

Even agencies without scheduled fundraisers are worried. Karla Whisenand, executive director at Love INC, said that while her organization didn’t have any fundraisers planned for the spring, it is challenging seeking out financial support when the economy is tumultuous and regular supporters are feeling the strain.{p dir=”ltr”}Normally the staff would be busy seeking out sponsors for Love INC’s Church Expo, to be held Sept. 12, “but we don’t feel right about asking at this time. Like others, we are unsure what the far-reaching effects of this pandemic will be,” Whisenand said. “A large percentage of our funding comes from Hancock County churches and its members. With churches closed, this will have an impact on our donations.”{p dir=”ltr”}Some nonprofits have been working diligently to move their spring and summer fundraisers to later in the year.{p dir=”ltr”}Meals on Wheels of Hancock County moved its biggest event — Boots & Bourbon — from April to August.{p dir=”ltr”}The spirits and wine tasting event was originally scheduled to be held April 18 at the Hancock County Fairgrounds, but it will now be held from 4-7 p.m. Aug. 29 at For-Lou Farms in Greenfield.{p dir=”ltr”}While switching dates, venues and marketing has been a lot of work, event organizers are thinking on the bright side. “We’re excited about this new venue, as it’s a rustic barn that fits well with our casual and fun boots-and-bourbon theme,” said April Allford, the nonprofit’s public relations and marketing coordinator.{p dir=”ltr”}A positive attitude seems to be key for nonprofit leaders throughout the county, who continue to meet their service areas’ needs as best they can with limited resources.{p dir=”ltr”}Many of them know they’ll likely need to cut costs in anticipation of fewer donations for the foreseeable future.{p dir=”ltr”}The soup kitchen, the Hancock County Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels are still providing food, as an increasing number of people seek support.{p dir=”ltr”}Meals on Wheels of Hancock County has had a significant increase in clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, said executive director Lynda Kosh, jumping from 2,400 meals delivered in February to 3,000 meals in April.{p dir=”ltr”}Love INC is also serving an increasing number of callers at its clearinghouse, which connects those in need with various resources like food, clothing and shelter assistance throughout the county.{p dir=”ltr”}“Our call volume has increased during this pandemic with requests for rental, mortgage assistance and housing. It seems like the main factor is loss of employment due to COVID-19 and being caught in a gap between job loss, worker’s compensation and stimulus relief,” said Whisenand.{p dir=”ltr”}In light of canceling this month’s bowling event, leaders at the Boys & Girls Clubs are exploring other fundraising options that can utilize the sponsorships and donations that had already been collected for the bowl-a-thon.{p dir=”ltr”}At Agape — which has three central Indiana locations — the staff opted to cut costs this spring by finding temporary housing for the horses at the Agape East facility in Greenfield, to lower the cost of maintaining the nonprofit’s herd this spring.{p dir=”ltr”}As soon as social distancing restrictions are lifted in the state, the nonprofit’s leaders and volunteers hope to get the horses back home and launch their spring season, providing therapeutic riding services for those with special needs.{p dir=”ltr”}“Like most nonprofits, we are reassessing the landscape of things week to week,” said Agape’s executive director, Stephanie Amick.{p dir=”ltr”}In an effort to raise much-needed funds, many nonprofits are replacing their traditional events with virtual replacements for the time being.{p dir=”ltr”}Jill Ebbert, executive director at the soup kitchen, opted to have a little fun with a virtual event she’s promoting on social media, called the “Don’t Come Event Fundraiser, held April 47th, 2020, high atop City Hall,” with catering by J.D. Clampett and family from Beverly Hills, and entertainment by the local sheriff and police chief, who will sing and dance to “Jailhouse Rock.”

Ebbert ended the tongue-in-cheek post with a serious plea: “As you know, most of our upcoming events will probably have to be canceled because of COVID-19. Therefore, please stay home in your comfy pants and send a monetary donation.”