National Philanthropy Day is celebrated annually on November 15. This day signifies the importance of working together for the common good.
President Reagan first proclaimed November 15 as National Philanthropy Day in 1986, and communities all throughout the world have celebrated the importance of this occasion ever since.
Troy Hanna, President and CEO, shared remarks below during a National Philanthropy Day virtual event on Thursday, November 19, 2020.
Troy’s comments were inspired by remarks given by colleague Melissa Thompson, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville. Her words on the work of philanthropy in 2020 and 2021 resonated with Troy so poignantly. Melissa Thompson said, “As we reflect on all that has occurred, we must know that it is a story, first, of relief, then of recovery, but most of all, a story of resilience…relief, recovery, and resilience.”
Listen to Troy’s remarks on why philanthropy has been so important this year and how communal actions and philanthropic work will determine our future.
The beginning of the COVID-19 was a critical time of relief where the community came together, fearful of the unknown, but undaunted by the needs created by the global pandemic that had reached the Upstate.
For The Spartanburg County Foundation, this was a call to action, a time when our services were needed the most.
As a community foundation that seeks to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents, The Spartanburg County Foundation team continues to monitor and evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on our local nonprofit sector.
Staff continues to explore COVID-19’s bearing on nonprofit operations, immediate nonprofit needs, the populations most impacted, and concerns about the sustainability of the nonprofit sector.
Below is a Q&A with our Senior Program Officer, Ashley Whitt, discussing some of the challenges Spartanburg nonprofits have faced this year.
- How has the pandemic affected the amount/rate of contributions to Spartanburg County nonprofits?
- It depends on the organization and their service area. Donors and funders have been generous in providing resources directly toward food and financial assistance, and while those are still needed, some programs that are not considered safety net services are being scaled back or put on hold.
- What are some of the challenges Spartanburg nonprofits are facing due to the pandemic?
- What The Spartanburg County Foundation has learned through conversations and listening sessions, is that nonprofit leaders are concern with maintaining their trained and capable staff, who provide critical services to the community. The challenge is that there has been a large focus on providing funding for direct services (i.e. specific programs, services, or projects, like purchasing food for the hungry) but not for general operating support. By giving without restrictions, nonprofits have the flexibility to allocate those resources to the greatest needs. General operating support bolsters an organization’s infrastructure and can help cover program expenses, pay for staffing, and other costs associated with keeping the doors open so that nonprofits can continue to serve the community. Just like we don’t know what 2021 will hold, nonprofit leaders don’t know how their program and service delivery will continue to evolve.
- Fundraising in general has been a big challenge. Many organizations typically raise a large portion of their operating expenses through in-person fundraising events. With the onset of COVID-19, nonprofits have had to re-think how they fundraise and how effective virtual fundraising will be. One concern and question that I’ve heard is “Will supports continue to give to our cause even without an event?” Nonprofit leaders also hope that donors and supports won’t become fatigued with giving. The need is still great.
- What has fundraising been like for your organization and those you work with this year?
- We have partnered with the community and donors in several ways this year to generate funds for critical needs. One, is by selling personalized, commemorative brick pavers that support The Spartanburg County Disaster Relief Fund and leave a lasting mark on The Robert Hett Chapman III Center for Philanthropy. More information can be found here https://spcf.org/paver/. Secondly, we partner with donors through the Foundation’s Just Because Program, which is an opportunity for donors to give unrestricted dollars and help build and sustain the work of Spartanburg area nonprofits.
- What would you say are the keys to a successful fundraiser this year?
- Stay true to your mission, tell your story, be honest about the need but also highlight your resiliency as an organization. When a donor/supported can connect with your organization on a personal level, I believe it will matter less if they are in-person or not.
- What are Spartanburg’s nonprofits most in need of?
- Unrestricted gifts and contributions. Nonprofit leaders are grateful for the support that the community has shown during the last several months and ask for continued trust in how their organizations use philanthropic dollars to meet the needs.
The Foundation offers knowledge sharing sessions each month to all nonprofit organizations that serve Spartanburg County through our Nonprofit Connect initiative.
Due to COVID-19, Nonprofit Connect has gone virtual! Sessions are held around the lunch hour and free to nonprofit organizations serving Spartanburg County. If you’re interested in participating in future Nonprofit Connect sessions, email Jasmine Guest, Program Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.