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School of Philanthropy helps nonprofits during pandemic

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Fundraising is never an easy task, much less in the middle of a global pandemic. For nonprofits, local and nationwide, economic instability poses a risk to their ability to serve their communities. 

That’s where the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy hopes to step in. 

Through free resources, including webinars, podcasts and articles, faculty from the school are providing tips for nonprofits in Indianapolis and around the world to continue bringing in donations through fundraising. 

Bill Stanczykiewicz, director of the The Fund Raising School within the School of Philanthropy, said all of the information provided comes from years of research.

“We’ve been drawing upon the significant amount of research the school has conducted during past calamities,” Stanczykiewicz said. “Events like the Great Recession of 2008, to what happens to fundraising after natural disasters and 9/11. All the work we do is research based, not just based off of lived experiences, and there’s strength in that.”

While certain philanthropic sectors, such as the arts and animal welfare, tend to have drops in fundraising during tough economic times, Stanczykiewicz said human services nonprofits, such as food pantries, tend to see significant increases. 

Regardless of the focus of the nonprofit, Stanczykiewicz said communication with donors is always the best way to raise money. 

“Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving,” he said. “A lot of our donors aren’t going to be able to experience that joy. As fundraisers, we have to be empathetic about that. … We should not hesitate to continue communicating. People are weighed down by negative news … that sense of hope and even abundance during these times of economic challenge is something that fundraisers can still hold on to.”

While many nonprofits around Indianapolis and throughout the country are grappling with the short-term and long-term repercussions of COVID-19 for their organizations, the focus still remains on the community. 

Barato Britt, CEO of Edna Martin Christian Center, said the center’s mission of feeding and helping the neighborhood remains the priority.

“Community organizations do recognize the role on the front lines,” Britt said. “We continue to be open for service. We are going to be a part of the supportive process and mitigation strategy in our neighborhood, city and state to make sure we get this crisis handled as quickly as possible.”

Jennifer Hashem, public relations manager for United Way of Central Indiana, said the nonprofit is fundraising for a newly created relief fund.

“Currently, our fundraising efforts are focused on the immediate needs of our community,” Hashem wrote in an email. “The development of the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund is our way of ensuring our community’s most vulnerable are being served during a global health crisis, along with the contributions of the Fund’s other founding partners.”

Stanczykiewicz hopes the biggest takeaway the nearly 3,000 people accessing the School of Philanthropy’s online resources get from the service is a reminder of why they do what they do. 

“Those of us in the sector have the audacity to believe we can make the world a better place,” he said. “Nonprofits have to continue to communicate what they’re doing with this crisis and what they’re doing beyond the crisis, and that might just inspire others to give.” 

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.


Learn more! 

The School of Philanthropy has webinars and virtual events planned through May. You can find a full schedule and register to join here.

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