Support System: Arizona Gives Day Is More Important Than Ever

This time last year, few could have imagined the devastation the COVID pandemic would unleash on the world. Twelve months later, with millions of people receiving the vaccine and daily stats showing mostly positive signs, you can almost hear a collective sigh of relief as we try to reclaim some sense of ordinariness.

We're not there yet, of course, and defining the "new normal" is still pending.

One fact we can hold onto is the incredible generosity demonstrated during last year's Arizona Gives Day 24-hour fundraiser when nearly 39,000 Arizonans donated a record-shattering $6.1 million to 913 participating nonprofits at a time when doors were closing, revenue streams were breaking and uncertainty reigned.

There's no question those dollars made a difference. There's also no question that Arizona nonprofits continue reeling.

We're hoping for a little déjà vu during this year's Arizona Gives Day on April 6 for the more than 1,000 nonprofits that have registered.

A recent Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits survey reported a total revenue loss of more than $91 million among the more than 400 nonprofits statewide that responded. The survey also showed a 52% drop in year-end giving and an increase of more than $15 million in expenses, primarily for PPE, supplies and technology.

Nearly 70% of responding organizations serving Southern Arizona saw a cumulative revenue decrease of more than $36.5 million and a $3.3 million increase in expenses.

At Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona, we were forced to close the House for five months. Because we paid for families to stay in hotels and covered the cost of meals that are generally provided by volunteers, our expenses skyrocketed.

If history is our guide, strong giving during previous crises of 9-11 and the 2008 recession were followed by a decline the next year. That being said, a recent report from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy suggests a period of "broad philanthropic growth" over the next two years as the economy recovers.

What does all this mean for Arizona nonprofits? Hard to say, but staying positive, even in the face of a crisis the likes of which we've never experienced, is in our DNA. So, we remain hopeful.

One of the things I love about Arizona Gives day is that it brings all nonprofits together. We work closely and very well together and Arizona Gives Day demonstrates that. It also gives people across the state the opportunity to learn about nonprofits they may know nothing about.

There are a number of options and ways to donate on Arizona Gives Day, from making donations during a specific block of time to help a nonprofit earn additional funds from the $160,000 prize pool to creating a fundraiser page to benefit your favorite nonprofit to sending a $50 online gift card to a friend or family member and having them choose the nonprofit they want to support. Details are available at www.azgives.org/fundraisers.

Arizona Gives Day is managed by the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits in collaboration with Arizona Grantmakers Forum. FirstBank, one of the nation's largest privately held banks with a focus on "banking for good," is the presenting sponsor.

The bottom line is that every dollar makes a difference for nonprofits doing great work in every community in Arizona. And, the truth is we can't do what we do without your help.

Kate Maguire Jensen is President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona (www.rmhctucson.org)

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