Donors and other funders want to know the quickest ways to ensure their dollars have the biggest impact during this challenging time. In his recent article in the New York Times, Paul Sullivan made the following observation: “The coronavirus pandemic is a test of how philanthropists can use their wealth to fill an enormous gap in revenue for nonprofit groups.”

“There is an immediate need to fund nonprofit organizations that support people in health or economic distress because of the outbreak. But these groups are asking for money from the same people who have seen their investments yo-yo up and down over the past weeks.”

To add to the challenge, few of these nonprofit groups have reserve funds to sustain them through a long period of uncertainty. Sullivan asked more than a dozen philanthropists how their giving has changed during this difficult time. In his article, he lists several strategies these donors identified for making the most of their giving.

»Santa Barbara Foundation joins forces to form a 19-member collaborative to respond to nonprofit challenges

Jackie Carrera, interim CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation

Jackie Carrera, interim CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation

Jackie Carrera, Interim CEO of Santa Barbara Foundation, related this encouraging update regarding the new COVID-19 Joint Response Effort. She is clear-minded and focused on finding the best ways for the foundation to meet current community needs.

“The Joint Response Effort began with the Santa Barbara Foundation and the United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) joining forces to activate our Community Disaster Relief Fund. This joint effort would build on a partnership that developed during the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow during which the UWSBC adeptly provided financial assistance to individuals and families and the Santa Barbara Foundation to nonprofits for emergency response and recovery.

“Recently, while initiating this partnership again, we approached the Hutton Parker Foundation to join us with funding to support organizations’ operating needs. Within days, several other members of the Foundation Roundtable stepped up to join what is now a 19-member funders’ collaborative. This group brings not only financial resources but extensive knowledge, information and, most of all compassion with their willingness to align efforts so that our community receives the best of what we all have to offer in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

»Matching actual community needs with donor contributions reveals true impact of funding.

“Our goal is to create a transparent and inclusive process that is strategic to maximize funding opportunities. 1) The process allows funders to be aware of all the needs that are being requested and the dollars granted, so they can maximize their individual giving and: 2) allows us to track and report more comprehensively the philanthropic dollars that are being put to work during this pandemic. 

“Our community’s generous response has been so inspiring. We have well over $2 million pledged. But, between the financial needs expressed by individual, nonprofit, and businesses, we know we will need millions more to keep up. Relief from the federal CARES Act will be welcome, but there are some who can’t wait that long for aid to arrive, or they won’t qualify when it does.”

»You can make donations or submit nonprofit applications at these sites.

To complicate things further, there is no end date for this pandemic and the long-term effect it will have on our communities. Needless to say, we are still actively fundraising. Donations can be made to United Way or Santa Barbara Foundation.

Individuals can seek resources through the United Way. Nonprofits can submit applications via the intake portal at Santa Barbara Foundation. Individual funders may have an application process as well.

We know that during a crisis, especially this one when we are more disconnected than ever, we need to work harder to communicate our needs and connect resources as effectively as possible. One thing we’ve done is to establish a Ways to Help Forum for organizations who have a need for supplies, volunteers, or financial resources to connect with people who have them. Please help us spread the word.

Kathy Odell, CEO of the Women’s Economic Ventures.

Kathy Odell, CEO of the Women’s Economic Ventures.

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) is helping nonprofits and small businesses with loans up to $10,000 and business counseling.

Kathy Odell, WEV CEO, explained the many challenges of nonprofits and small businesses and how her organization is coming to their aid.

“Eighty-five percent of businesses in U.S. have under 10 employees. These are the main focus of WEV’s services,” she said. “Many small businesses do not have large amounts of cash reserves on hand so this economic downturn is a life-threatening situation for many of them.

“WEV is set up really well for making quick response loans up to $10,000 for nonprofits and small businesses with under 10 employees. We have a 48-hour turnaround from the time loan application documents are submitted. Applications are coming in rapidly since the crisis began. We received 80 applications within two days and are receiving a new application every 20 minutes, and this is just from those impacted to date,” she continued. “We expect the rate to escalate as the crisis continues.”

»WEV is looking for more capital to help with business counseling on how small businesses and nonprofits can pivot their business model.

“In addition to loans, WEV is providing guidance and suggestions on measures to get through the coming weeks and maybe months. But we need more capital to do this,” Odell said. “We are talking to foundations and banks to help provide more capital. We are also asking more individuals to donate to WEV. 

“Our business advisory services are very popular and effective for organizations struggling to navigate this crisis. We had many requests for advice during the fires, but this is exponentially larger in scope. We expect shifts in business operations and ways that the larger economy operates. 

“Previously, we helped small businesses learn how to compete with the Amazons of the world, but today’s challenges will become an even bigger problem. We’re helping small businesses identify ways of pivoting their business model to accommodate the new normal. We are starting a series of webinars called ‘WEV Works,’ providing information on finding financial assistance, pivoting your business, HR issues, self-care, and more. We also are using #WEVpivoted for our outreach to business owners to get them to think about options for their business.

“WEV has advisers on duty to help small businesses modify their financial projections. Financial literacy is a big issue with many small businesses. Often a small business will know how much revenue is coming in and going out but they don’t know how to extrapolate this information for the future. WEV has many training programs in this arena and we will be doing more seminars on this topic.”

»WEV is encouraging small businesses and nonprofits to be resilient.

“We are also focusing on the need for resiliency in general,” Odell said. “Everyone is feeling pretty scared right now, so we will be looking at all the needs of the community. We converted to all online instruction only and we are available by response line for those who need to speak with an adviser. We return calls within 24 hours now.” 

WEV will also be conducting webinars, which will be announced from time to time on its website. For questions and details, you can call 805.456.2342 or  805.908.0096 for assistance in Spanish.

Another reason to call WEV is it is working with other agencies such as the Small Business Administration (including the Paycheck Protection Program) and Education Development Center.

“We we will help small business owners fill out these challenging applications,” Odell said. “We just released a survey to gather information for WEV and also to help the foundations. We want to find out what the needs are and what’s really going on for small business owners and nonprofits.”

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or The opinions expressed are her own.

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or The opinions expressed are her own.