By Scott Wierman
The past two years have been a roller coaster ride for all of us. Whether it’s managing pandemic-related issues, dealing with the challenges of worker shortages and supply chain disruptions, or bracing for rising inflation, our community, like so many others around the world, has had to adapt and find creative ways of dealing with the new normal.
Our local nonprofits, in particular, have proven their resilience time and again in the face of ever-evolving challenges. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need our continued support. Many of these nonprofits — and especially their clients — are being impacted like never before.
What Nonprofits Are Facing
Many of the issues local nonprofits are dealing with are byproducts of turbulence at home and abroad. Everything from their services to organizational overhead are being affected by broader events.
In light of this, we recently reached out to Lowcountry nonprofits to ask them what their biggest challenges have been over the past six months. We found that more than 72% of those we surveyed were struggling with increased operational costs.
This reality may be less likely to pull at the heartstrings of donors, but it has an impact on a nonprofit’s ability to provide services to our community, says Pat Zuk, executive director of First Tee – The Lowcountry.
“I realize it’s not sexy to help pay someone’s salary or the rent or light bill, but in many cases, it’s more important than special projects,” he said.
Kim Likins of the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island reiterated the serious impact of rising operational costs. “It especially affects payroll,” she said.
What Their Clients Are Facing
Additionally, issues like inflation and related increases in food, gas and housing costs have had a troubling impact on the clients local nonprofits serve. As a result, 55% of the local organizations we surveyed reported higher client demand as a top concern.
The biggest issues these clients are facing, as reported by these nonprofits, are: inability to afford enough groceries for their household, inability to pay utilities and other bills, inability to find affordable or available housing and inability to pay rent or mortgage.
“As the economy shrinks the buying power of local working families, we feel an increased need to provide food with high nutritional value,” said Brenda Bruce of Backpack Buddies. “And with supply chain uncertainties, we need to be creative in filling bags with a variety of foods.”
Sandy Gillis of The Deep Well Project is seeing economic challenges translate into housing woes for her organization’s clients. “Financial support has been overwhelmingly directed to housing issues – rent, mortgage and home repairs,” she said.
There are many other concerns. Some of the nonprofits have seen an increase in client struggles with mental health, domestic violence, performance at school or work and ability to secure childcare or afford transportation.
How You Can Help
The Lowcountry has always been a community that comes together in periods of crisis. At the Community Foundation, we’ve seen that up close, as we we’ve worked with nonprofits through hurricanes, a pandemic and other crises. Now, we must come together as a community to support our local nonprofits through this challenge.
What does that look like? Consider the nonprofits that do work you’re passionate about and reach out. You can visit cf-lowcountry.org to view and donate to the many nonprofit funds we hold. Also on our site, you can access Lowcountry Volunteer Connections to be matched with an organization in need of volunteer work. The important thing is to lend a hand.
Sara Green of Marshview Community Organic Farm on St. Helena Island says it best: “When we pull together, it makes our individual work much lighter, less costly and less overwhelming.”
Scott Wierman is President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. www.cf-lowcountry.org