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Opinion: Nonprofits Have NH's Back

Published Monday Nov 30, 2020

Author Kathleen Reardon, Richard Ober, and Katy Easterly Martey.

Opinion: Nonprofits Have NH's Back

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, New Hampshire’s nonprofit organizations did what had to be done: they adapted—and kept meeting their missions.

Homeless shelter staff figured out how to keep roofs over people’s heads, even when that meant scrambling to find room for people to isolate.

People who run food pantries and the NH Food Bank figured out how to safely distribute groceries in our communities, despite a surge in demand.

Workers at family resource centers figured out how to keep isolated kids in struggling families connected with summer activities, delivering supplies to homes, and setting up virtual meetings on Zoom.

Museums that usually host school groups created online programs and connected families with remote-learning resources. Arts organizations that were dealt a staggering blow from a loss of all revenue, found creative ways to safely offer experiences that continued to lift people up and inspire.

Nonprofit child care centers adapted to keep doors open for the children of essential workers.

The list goes on. And on. And on.

And nonprofits met this unprecedented need despite facing mounting and unexpected costs, forced cancellations of fundraisers that many rely on to keep their budgets in the black, closures that sent income into a tailspin, all while facing the complexities of a global pandemic. 

Many NH citizens have rallied to acknowledge and support that heroic work. In June, the NH Center for Nonprofits’ one-day giving event, NH Gives, shattered all previous records, raising more in 2020 for nonprofits in the state than it had in the previous four years combined.

Many people and businesses gave generously to support the critical work that keeps communities strong. You gave money and time — and you gave food and toilet paper when those things were in short supply. Every donation was appreciated. Many gave to United Way relief funds, to the NH Charitable Foundation’s Community Crisis Action Fund, to the Community Development Finance Authority’s Response Fund, or directly to those organizations that you see doing good and vital work in your communities every day.

Our three organizations worked together to create a grant program and to help the state administer the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Program, helping the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery to efficiently and effectively distribute millions in federal CARES Act funding to help NH’s nonprofits keep going through this crisis.

But nonprofits need more. These organizations remain—and will remain—on the front lines, continuing to manage the public-health crisis, fighting for racial justice, addressing the increased need for basic services, protecting people’s right to vote, building local economic opportunities, and so much more.

And nonprofits will be a critical wellspring of resilience to help rebuild the vibrancy, shared purpose, and connectedness in NH communities.

The NH Center for Nonprofits, the NH Charitable Foundation, and the Community Development Finance Authority will continue to serve the nonprofit sector, making grants, advocating, and providing technical assistance. We urge federal and state policy-makers to make more funds available to support nonprofits as we continue to navigate and rebuild from this crisis. And we encourage the state to continue to work with private philanthropic partners and the nonprofit sector to find solutions to our shared challenges.

In this extraordinarily challenging time, nonprofits have not failed or even faltered in their missions for our communities. The staff and volunteers of these remarkable organizations masked up, gloved up, and went right on with the work.

Nonprofits had NH’s back when our communities needed them the most, and they continue to have our back. Now, they need everyone who is able to show that we have theirs. Please give as generously as you can this holiday season to help the state's nonprofits keep meeting their critical missions.

This piece is co-authored by Kathleen Reardon, CEO of the NH Center for Nonprofits; Richard Ober, president and CEO of the NH Charitable Foundation; and Katy Easterly Martey, executive director of the Community Development Finance Authority.

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