April 19, 2020

By Stuart A. Ashton, Jr. and Teri McNally

The Community Foundation stands with everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic: people who are ill, people who are grieving, people facing economic uncertainty and profound disruptions to our way of life. We are grateful to every individual, business and organization rising to the challenge and meeting our community’s needs at this difficult time.

Area nonprofit organizations are a vital and necessary protection for many of our most dramatically affected fellow citizens.

Now, more than ever, local nonprofits are stretched to their limits supporting community needs. They are on the front lines: Many provide such basic resources as emergency food, supplies and housing. Some are addressing extremely challenging situations, such as advocating for children who are at home under a protective order or in a trial foster placement. Others are solving new problems created by COVID-19, such as appropriate child care for medical personnel and first responders.

The Community Foundation offers a way to help: the Community Relief Fund. We want to let everyone know how this fund is helping our region and how you can help.

Nonprofits can apply for a grant using a streamlined online application on The Community Foundation’s website, cfrrr.org. Initial grants will go to local nonprofits that provide food and shelter, emergency assistance, and health/mental health support.

Nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations are prioritized. These may include children out of school, senior citizens, people experiencing domestic violence or child abuse, or people who have lost income due to the pandemic.

Grants can be used for direct services or to help the organization adapt to working with fewer staff or working remotely due to quarantining or social distancing.

It’s no coincidence that The Community Foundation can respond to the pandemic so quickly. The Community Relief Fund was established last October in response to regional disaster planning initiatives. While localities are well suited to harness government resources during disasters, The Community Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that can accept donations from individuals who want to lend a hand.

The Community Foundation is honored to lead area philanthropy. Through the Community Relief Fund, we leverage 20-plus years of experience to provide funding—rapidly and effectively—to nonprofits that need it most.

The foundation’s needs assessment survey asked nonprofits to describe the impact of the pandemic on the people they serve. Results are still coming in, but already the results are unprecedented:

  • 72 percent are not able to provide at least some of their core services.
  • 30 percent of those impacted have changed how they deliver some services, but most were not able to continue a large part of their most significant services.
  • The largest portion of area nonprofits are focused on providing basic needs.
  • More than 40 percent of respondents report an even greater demand for services.
  • More than 40 percent of the organizations report a lack of adequate funding.

A bleak picture? Those of us who work and volunteer at The Community Foundation know otherwise. We interact daily with essential nonprofits and generous donors. Together, the foundation’s 170 permanent funds collectively give over $1.5 million each year to local nonprofits, churches and schools. The need is urgent and greater than ever before, but we are up for the challenge. Please support the Community Relief Fund in whatever way you can.

The Community Foundation’s Board of Governors activated the fund with $50,000 and waived its normal 1 percent administrative fee through June 30 to ensure 100 percent of funds go directly to community-based organizations.

Already our community has contributed another $96,400! Yet, the foundation’s recent community needs assessment survey of area nonprofits makes clear that more financial support is needed.

You can help meet the critical needs of local nonprofits and the people they serve by donating to the Community Relief Fund using the foundation’s website.

Checks can also be made out to The Community Foundation/Community Relief Fund and mailed to PO Box 208, Fredericksburg, VA 22404.

Stuart A. Ashton, Jr. is President of the Community Foundation and Teri McNally is the foundation’s Executive Director.