The crippling impact of coronavirus on nonprofits

And the chance for purposeful brands to show their true colors and core values.

While the White House and Senate have reached a historic, $2 trillion stimulus deal to resuscitate the country, it remains to be seen whether Congress will give a coalition of nonprofits the $60 billion in emergency funding they’re seeking.

As Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Action Network said in a recent joint statement signed by leaders of national nonprofits, "funding for charitable organizations is going to fall precipitously but the needs in our communities will not."

The COVID-19 pandemic, according to the nonprofit stimulus letter "will undoubtedly result in a contraction in contributions and other sources of revenue which are the lifeblood of many charitable organizations. America’s charities are frontline responders providing food, shelter, medical services and other critical services to those in need in their communities. At this crucial time when the American people and governments will depend even more on charitable nonprofits, contributions are likely to decrease as happened following the 2008 recession."

Frightening statistics, to say the least.

Current industry headlines are focused on how marketers are responding to coronavirus and relocating ad dollars now that sponsorships are off. Every move pertaining to brand marketing during corona is being dissected while experts are lining up to give tips on planning digital events.

What’s not being covered is the impact the pandemic is going to have on the nonprofits that deliver essential services to millions in need. April and May bring more than creative awards show judging and TV upfronts. They bring the critical walks for causes that generate up to 50 percent of the revenue nonprofits need to operate and deliver. Cause walkers have been busy on GoFundMe for months raising money from friends and family for upcoming fundraising walks for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and dozens of others. It’s not chump change caring consumers raise. NAMIWalks 2019 raised more than $12 million for mental health support, education, advocacy and public awareness. The charitable donations that come from cumulative 5k walks are essential for organizations.

With talks of walks being cancelled due to COVID-19 and the fear of spreading infection, organizations are going to be scrambling to deliver the care and services millions rely upon.

Brands, here’s your chance to shine. It’s time to come together and show that some good that can come from coronavirus. Consumers will remember and reward brands that double down in a moment of crisis. Return on investments will be high and delivered in the form of brand respect, respect that can never be earned through big-budget ad campaigns. This is a moment for brands to show their true character and core values.

Everyone is already walking in circles as the unknown become more surreal daily. Organizing and participating in virtual walks will fill depleted nonprofit coffers and boost consumer morale.

Things will certainly get even worse before they get better. Brands that rally around causes and digitize fundraising during this time of turmoil will be winners. Nonprofits are going to be taxed with a multitude of more asks now. Everyone is hunkering down as best as they can until the pandemic passes. Giving consumers who are unsure what tomorrow brings some control will raise money for mission-critical services and do wonders for brand awareness and engagement. And, of course, steps for collective good will settle anxious minds and souls of people who need to safely keep moving.

Partnerships are powerful and have the ability to fill voids sure to be left by COVID-19 cancellations. This is, indeed, a huge moment of crisis. Brands need to step up and step in now.

Drew Train is the cofounder of Oberland.

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