Next Doors: Where Do we Go from Here?

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Posted By on April 2, 2020

Uniting to help during the coronavirus outbreak

            The best way to deal with this crisis is to do what we’ve always done — come together as a community.

            It’s difficult to figure out where to start. I’m late writing my column this month because I wanted to hold out as long as possible, in case of some substantive paradigm change that would have been unthinkable even days or weeks ago.

            So I’m sitting on my porch on Sunday, March 29 as I write this, social distancing on one of the most gloriously beautiful days of the year. The juxtaposition between the natural beauty that’s begging the soul to go out and interact with others versus the unthinkable crisis that’s keeping most of us in our homes is jarring.

            In less than three weeks, the world economy has crashed. You’ve read plenty about that. So I’ll focus on what we focus on, those individuals and organizations that give back to our community. So many of them are hurting. Some organizations aren’t able to function normally, some not at all. Many of the Valley’s most high-profile fundraising events, generating millions of dollars for those in need, have been postponed or canceled. The arts are shuttered. People have lost their jobs.

            We are entering into a period of unpredictability never seen before, with no end in sight, and with many of the public service organizations we rely on to help us deal with troubled times struggling to survive. According to the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, in just the first few weeks of the crisis, nonprofits have seen more than $36.7 million in revenue loss.

            So where do we go from here?

            As I write this, it was only 18 days ago that I was looking at the NBA and NHL schedules and wondering which games I was going to watch on TV that night. I say that to point out something that seems somehow counterintuitive — it hasn’t been a very long time since this crisis started. And yet, already there have been millions of dollars in investments to help our community survive the storm. New funds have been established to help those on the front lines. Longtime philanthropic organizations have taken leadership roles in helping us find a way forward. People are looking for ways to help, even if they need help themselves.

            The best thing we can do is to do what we’ve always done — come together as a community and support those who need it most. Do what you can. Stay indoors and focus on your health. If you’ve lost your job, then focus on your own needs and the needs of your family. If you’re more secure, then help others by giving to efforts to fight this terrible outbreak and ensure our quality of life on the other side.

            There’s a lot you can do, job or no job, money or no money. The following are just a few ways you can help. I’m going to leave some out, for sure. But this is a start:

  • Arizona Gives Day is on April 7, and it is an opportunity for you to give to any one or more of hundreds of nonprofits throughout the state. The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, which organizes the effort along with the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, has found a donor to cover credit card processing fees and has created an Arizona Gives Day Emergency Relief Fund, which will be equally distributed to Arizona Gives Day nonprofits. You can go to azgives.org to donate.
  • While the deadline to file Arizona state income taxes has been extended to July 15, the deadline of April 15 for Arizona charitable tax credit contributions has NOT been extended. So if you donate to a qualified nonprofit by April 15, you receive a dollar-for-dollar credit on your state income taxes. You can read our Tax Credit Giving Guide for more information.
  • Several larger community organizations and foundations have started dedicated funds to support nonprofits on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, or ones providing critical support services to families that may be struggling during this challenging time. The Arizona Community Foundation and Valley of the Sun United Way each have started funds to help nonprofits throughout the state, but are coordinating their efforts to ensure there’s no duplication. And, Governor Doug Ducey’s office has launched the Arizona Together fund and is providing vital information for those affected by the crisis on a new website, arizonatogether.org.
  • Local First Arizona recently launched an initiative to provide immediate financial relief to Arizona’s small businesses in the form of mini-grants that will help with expenses such as rent and employee payroll. To qualify for relief funds, a company must have an annual revenue of less than $250,000 and be the sole source of income for a family, with priority given to businesses owned by a family with children under 18 in their household. Businesses may submit an online application here.
  • We’ve probably seen more six-figure and seven-figure charitable donations in the past three weeks than we would otherwise see in months. New things are happening every day to provide help to those in need, and nonprofits are changing their models on the fly to maximize their impact. You can read our COVID-19 coverage for real-time updates from the nonprofit community.

            Most of all — be kind. Serve others as you’re able. Spend time with your family and connect (remotely) with your friends and loved ones. There’s another side to this whole thing, even if we don’t see it now. We’ll get there, together, as a community, doing what we’ve always done — being there for one another.

Tom Evans

About Tom Evans

Tom Evans is a contributing editor of Frontdoors Media.