Tri-Citians are a generous lot.
Residents generously give money to Senior Life Resources Northwest to ensure seniors eat courtesy Meals on Wheels. They give to the Kennewick Police Department’s Community Cares Fund to help officers help people in trouble.
They reach into their wallets to support important capital projects too. The new Union Gospel Mission in Pasco and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties’ new central Kennewick clubhouse are two recent examples.
The list goes on. If there’s a need, Tri-Citians answer the call.
Well, there is a need now more than ever.
Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic has sidelined the economy since March and pushed the local unemployment rate up. It stood at 9.1 percent in June, the most recent figures available from the state Employment Security Department.
The losses our local nonprofits are facing due to Covid-19 are staggering.
There are more than 1,700 tax-exempt organizations in the Tri-Cities, including Prosser and Benton City, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS doesn’t say which ones are still active.
But the Covid pandemic will thin the ranks further. An influential report released in July predicts 10% to 40% of U.S. nonprofits will merge or go out of business because of steep declines in charitable giving.
As we report in the nonprofit section of this month’s edition of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business, locals won’t be spared the pain. LoAnn Ayers, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties, shares that she speaks with a dozen or more nonprofits a day. They’re all hurting.
In-person events and fundraisers have migrated online.
Amid the bad news, Ayers says there is good. Tri-Citians are compelled to help those who are less fortunate. And most Tri-Citians remain employed. They’re not traveling, eating out or shopping as much as usual, with is pushing up disposable income.
There are lots of ways to help and they all start with the issues and causes closest to your own heart.
Donating to support the mission that most aligns with your values is always important but especially during this time when so many of these organizations’ major fundraisers are being canceled or shifted to formats donors aren’t as familiar or comfortable with.
United Way and the Three Rivers Community Foundation both launched Covid-19 funds to help nonprofits help our neighbors.
As always, if you’re unsure about a charity, check it out. The Federal Trade Commission recommends researching charities at BBB Wise Giving Alliance (give.org), Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), CharityWatch (charitywatch.org) and GuideStar (guidestar.org).
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