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Northeast Ohio Nonprofits Pivot Fundraising, Services in the Face of Pandemic

Shaw JCC.jpg
Shaw JCC
At Akron's Shaw JCC, they've set up an app to schedule exercise equipment, offered more virtual programming -- and are now mounting a campus-wide fundraising campaign in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

End of year seasonal giving is something Northeast Ohio nonprofits usually anticipate. But 2020 hasn’t been like any other year in recent memory. And some nonprofits are getting creative due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dianne Newman is co-chairing the annual campaign for the Shaw Jewish Community Center of Akron.

This year, given the pandemic, they’re partnering on the Better Together campaign with Akron’s Jewish Family Service, Jewish Community Board, and the K-12 Lippman School. Newman says so far, they’re seeing increased need and, in some cases, increased donations.

“Some people are more cautious because they’re not sure of their jobs. Other people -- feeling grateful for not losing their jobs and not having problems -- are being more generous.”

And once the pandemic is over, Newman anticipates they’ll need to be more creative with programming.
“People no longer like to go to big events or to sit in a room and be talked to. They’ve discovered how nice it is to be at home.”

Newman adds that there’s also been an increase in the need for social services, such as helping seniors get to medical appointments.

At the United Way of Summit and Medina Counties, they’ve had to pivot from the old way of presenting programs to people at work. CEO Jim Mullen says that’s because a lot of people continue to work from

“From that aspect, we’ve done a ton of videos [and] Zoom calls. We have found, quite honestly, Zoom has given us a whole other dimension of actually reaching more people. We have seen an increase in the number of people coming to meetings [and] we’re getting better attendance.”

Mullen says giving has still been steady this year, but they’re finding need has increased in Northeast Ohio as people struggle with job losses that have led them to seek assistance from social services — such as coming to the region's food banks, which are coordinated by United Way.