Kristen Merrifield

Kristen Merrifield

Eleven months into 2021, the words COVID and coronavirus have assumed a dominant place in the international vernacular.

I know I’m not alone in wishing we could find another word to take its place and, at the same time, wipe away its deep and too-often shattering impact. Even The New York Times tried to make sense of it all with this headline: “Pandemic-related terms have permeated everyday speech, yielding dictionary updates and slangified phrases. But what about after coronavirus?”

Hopefully, as we continue our slow climb out of what has become a life-changing dynamic, we can put some distance between our lives and COVID’s consequences. And, maybe a new generation of post-pandemic terms will become clearer.

Until then, from our perspective at the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, in addition to ensuring we all stay safe and healthy, our focus remains steadfast on the impact of COVID on nonprofits across Arizona and how we can help in their recovery.

An Alliance survey of nonprofits statewide earlier this year showed a total pandemic-driven revenue loss of more than $91 million, a 52% drop in year-end giving and an increase of more than $15 million in expenses, primarily for PPE, supplies and technology.

And, though a more recent survey reported nonprofits were adopting a cautious return to in-person events, which are so important in fund-raising strategies, the fact remains that agencies doing great work in communities statewide continue to struggle.

During COVID, many individuals, foundations and grant-making organizations loosened application requirements and approved a greater number of unrestricted gifts rather than designating them for specific purposes.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency, in coverage of a Jewish Funders Network survey, reported that “more than three-quarters of the group’s survey respondents said they had increased their giving in response to the pandemic” in addition to considering “new causes,” including “support for basic necessities like food and shelter.”

Local Jewish federations also boosted their giving during the pandemic. JTA reported that the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles distributed $14 million in COVID response grants. The UJA-Federation of New York “distributed nearly $64 million in COVID-related aid on top of its regular grants of $133 million.”

In Arizona, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, in its first round of distributions in 2020, awarded COVID emergency grants totaling $69,000.

Every dollar contributed to nonprofits is critical, especially at a time when their services and resources are stretched so thin by the unexpected and potentially devastating effect of COVID, which also resulted in job losses among those doing the work.

As we come into the holiday season, when giving is historically higher than during the rest of the year (even though needs remain high across the entire calendar), we encourage you to do whatever you can to help those in need be able to survive. And so much of that falls to our nonprofits.

At the same time, we want to point you towards April 5-6, when the 24-hour Arizona Gives Day fund-raising campaign unites nonprofits,

big and small, new and established, and celebrates and increases philanthropy in Arizona through online giving.

Arizona Gives Day helps raise awareness about the critical role Arizona nonprofits play in our communities and inspires people to give generously to create a thriving and stronger Arizona for all.

Last year, during a time excessively described as “unprecedented,” Arizona donors opened their hearts to donate a record-breaking $7.1 million for nonprofits across the state. Since 2013, Arizona Gives Day has raised more than $30 million for nonprofits statewide.

Through our website, AZGives.org, we have added features to encourage and streamline year-round giving on a platform that also offers an advanced search filter to find nonprofits by specific criteria, area of focus and which donations may qualify as an Arizona tax credit. Among our members are Hillel Jewish Student Center, Jewish Family & Children’s Service and Jewish

Free Loan.

However you decide to give, please know there are thousands of men, women, children and families in Arizona who are grateful for whatever you can do for tzedakah. JN

Kristen Merrifield is CEO at the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.