Sanford Institute of Philanthropy Blog

5 Unique Examples of Local Nonprofits Adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nonprofit Organizations
The past several weeks have been difficult for all us, but despite all of the challenges, the nonprofits in our community have been doing incredible work!

Organizations are quickly adapting their services to serve larger numbers of those in need, changing their approach to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and generating new ideas to make up for lost revenue. 

There is so much great work being done that we couldn’t possibly highlight it all in a single blog post; however, here are a few unique ways that we’ve seen local nonprofits adapting to the current situation. They might not all be directly applicable to what you do, but we hope that they’ll spark some ideas for you and your nonprofit!

1. Make-A-Wish America’s Messages of Hope

Make-A-Wish Messages of Hope

According to Make-A-Wish America, around 75 percent of the wishes that the organization grants each year for children with life-threatening medical conditions require air travel. Thus, it’s no surprise that given the current situation, many wishes have had to be postponed. In fact, Make-A-Wish Arizona alone estimates more than 60 Arizona wishes will be delayed in March and April, with 30 to 40 more each month as restrictions continue.

For many children, both the anticipation of the wish and the wish itself give them something to look forward to. With no clear date as to when it will be safe to travel again, Make-A-Wish America is engaging their supporters and keeping spirits high among their wish children through their Messages of Hope campaign.

As part of this campaign, the Arizona chapter is asking people to “write, video or photograph yourself sharing a message of hope and post to any of our Make-A-Wish Arizona social media channels at @makeawishaz (tag @makeawisharizona on Instagram) and use the hashtag #WishesAreWaiting.”

The campaign has already garnered nearly 2,000 posts on Instagram, including messages from celebrities like the Jonas Brothers, Gordon Ramsay, and more (check it out here!). 

2. Mesa United Way’s “Waist Up Dress Up Virtual Zoom Party”

Among the organizations that have experienced huge increases in demand for their services as a result of the pandemic is the United Way! To help raise funds for this

Essential Quarantine Kit

increase in services, Mesa United Way has developed an innovative, virtual fundraising event: “Waist Up Dress Up Virtual Zoom Party.” The dress code for the event? Formal on top and casual on bottom, much like how we’ve all probably been dressing for virtual meetings since working from home!

The event will be held on April 24 and features a musical guest, interactive games, a unique origami tutorial, raffle prizes, and pet-friendly dance breaks (register here). Tickets cost $25 each and raffle tickets start at 3 tickets for $5.00. The best raffle prize? The Essential Quarantine Kit that includes “12 extra-large rolls of quality 2-ply soft toilet paper, 1 enormous roll of shop towels (perfect for mask liner), a can of Lysol, a bottle of Clorox cleaner, 1 pair of gloves, a cover-up mask (recommended to supplement your cloth mask), and an impossible to get bottle of real life hand sanitizer!” 

This unique event gives their supporters the chance to have a fun experience from the comfort of their homes and raises money for their organization, a win-win!

3. Southwest Human Development’s Virtual Drives

To continue to support the children and families that they serve, Southwest Human Development has launched two virtual drives to give donors the opportunity to continue to support their organization from home.

Sample from Grow A Reader Virtual Book Drive

The first virtual drive is their “Grow a Reader”  virtual book drive. According to their website, nearly 2 out of 3 children in low-income communities don’t have a single children’s book to call their own. That means that with schools and many libraries closed, children throughout Arizona don’t have access to any books! This virtual drive allows donors to pick individual books to donate or they can choose to donate 160 books for $400, which is the amount for an individual Arizona tax credit. A great way to encourage people to donate their tax credit dollars!

The organization is also offering a COVID-19 basic needs drive to give donors an opportunity to donate much-needed supplies to families and child care centers in need. What's great about how they have this drive set up is that all of the items are clearly bundled, allowing donors to clearly see their impact. For example, $25.99 provides 1 child care center with sanitizing supplies for a month!  

4. YNPN’s Got Talent

To give young nonprofit professionals a break from all of the COVID-19 craziness, YNPN Phoenix is hosting a virtual talent show on May 6! The event will give members and

YNPN Phoenix Talent Show

non-members alike a chance to show off their hidden talents. Submissions for the talent show are due April 28 (submit your talent here) and an Eventbrite will be sent out soon for those of you like me who don’t have a talent to share but still would like to join in on the fun!

I may be a little biased because I’m on the board for YNPN Phoenix, but I love this idea! It is such a fun way to bring positivity to our sector in a time when many of us are probably feeling overwhelmed. Plus, the concept can be adapted to to fit different kinds of nonprofit organizations! Who knows, virtual talent shows may become a nonprofit staple even after COVID-19 is gone. 

5. Seed Spot’s #HomeOfficeHacks

Seed Spot #HomeOfficeHacks instructions

With many of us now working from home, Seed Spot launched their #HomeOfficeHacks to give people a chance to share a picture of their home workspace for a chance to win a $1500 home office package that includes a desk, chair, and table lamp. The contest, which was launched on Thursday, April 9 and runs until April 21, is offered in partnership with Humanscale and Goodmans Interior Structures.

To enter the sweepstakes, Instagram users have to follow @seedspot, @humanscalehq, and @goodmansgoodstuff, share a photo of their work-from-home set up with the hashtags #HomeOfficeHacks and #Sweepstakes, and tag @seedspot. 

This contest is a great example of how powerful partnerships can be! It’s a win-win for all three organizations involved because they are all increasing their Instagram followers and generating awareness for all three brands at once. Plus, it draws on a shared experience that many of us have right now: trying to adjust to a work-from-home lifestyle!

Have you seen other unique ways that nonprofits are adapting to our current situation? Share them with us on social media by tagging @sanfordmaricopa.

Looking for other resources for pivoting your nonprofit during the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Guide!

Download the Nonprofit Resource Guide



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