Butler County nonprofits shifting events to recharge fundraising in 2021

Many local nonprofits count on events and festivals to raise funds, but the majority of them had to cancel their plans in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Now, in 2021, they are adjusting their plans to move the events later in the season when there may be be more confidence concerning public health.

“I want our community to know, as event planners here, that we are talking to our counterparts in neighboring communities, and we’re talking to the health department. We are making plans for the 2021 event season that includes concerts and farmers markets, and all of those things, but we’re just having to be a little bit flexible,” said Barb Wilson, director, public information and engagement in West Chester Twp.

Many signature events in West Chester are produced by nonprofits, such as UCBMA’s Union Centre Food Truck Rally, Rotary’s Buckeye BBQ Fest and The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty’s Shamrock Shuffle.

“Those are events coordinated by nonprofits, who depend on the revenue generated from those events to do their work in the community. So, they are very important functions, and I think they are also trying to be really creative, and understand how they can move forward, be safe and responsible, and all of those things,” Wilson said.

The Union Centre Boulevard Merchant Association (UCBMA) has set aside the date of Aug. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for the Union Centre Food Truck Rally.

UCBMA also supports the Thursday Night TAKEOVER on the Square Concert Series and the organization is planning for a fall fundraising event, “A Tribute to Historic Barns of Ohio” with Robert Kroeger that will feature barn paintings at Muhlhauser Barn. Barn paintings from all 88 counties in Ohio will be available for sale and the profits will benefit UCBMA as well as other local nonprofits. The event will also honor the restoration of Muhlhauser Barn.

No date has been set yet for the Buckeye BBQ Fest. However, Rotary is gearing up for the 25th anniversary of the Frozen Open on March 28. Go to www.frozenopen.com for details.

The Shamrock Shuffle, typically a March event hosted by the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, is being moved to September and rebranded this year to The Shamrock Shuffle: Halfway to St. Patty’s Day. The event will be held on Sept. 11, starting at 9 a.m.

“The decision was made to hold it then just so that we could still have a great community impact and there are many causes that the run benefits. A hundred percent of the event proceeds go out to the participating charity teams as well as out through our Community Grants Fund,” said Erin Clemons, the president of the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty.

In 2020, Shamrock Shuffle was cancelled two days prior to the event. Yet, she said, there was an overwhelming amount of generosity from participants, sponsors, and the community as a whole. Each year, the Shamrock Shuffle raises about $130,000. Another positive thing that happened in 2020 was the Community Health Fund was born, which was created to efficiently address the local needs during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“Actually, out of the birth of the Community Health Fund, we granted out more dollars, and made a larger impact when it was really needed. So, I want to say thank you to all of the people who rallied together to donate to that fund, specifically. We granted out over $86,000 to meet the COVID-19 emergency need, and we’re just very thrilled that we were able to have these Rapid Response Grants available,” Clemons said.

Organizations including Reach Out Lakota, St. Vincent de Paul, American Legion Post 681 and UC Health West Chester, Atrium Medical Center Foundation, and Christ Hospital Foundation were among the 13 nonprofit grant recipients.

“We were upset that we were not able to host the Shamrock Shuffle, but a lot of good came out of it, and we were able to be a leader and a resource for those needs during this health crisis,” said Clemons.

In 2020, The Ohio Nonprofit COVID-19 Survey Project was taken on to identify the greatest needs of the state’s nonprofit sector during this public health crisis. It began in April 2020 with an initial wave of the survey. Initially, the survey found many of the state’s nonprofit organizations been significantly impacted by the pandemic. More than 25 percent of the nonprofits said that they had to stop providing their normal programs or services, while half were delivering services at a reduced capacity.

Over 7,500 public charities in the state responded to the survey, expressing a need for greater resources (Beaton, 2020). In August 2020, the project partners, including the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section, Philanthropy Ohio, the Ohio Association for Nonprofit Organizations, and the authors who are affiliated with The Ohio State University, embarked on a second wave of the survey, following up on the welfare of Ohio’s nonprofit sector.

The results of the second wave revealed both good and bad news for the sector. Overall, the situation seems to be improving, at least slightly, for some nonprofits. Many organizations are resuming services. Of those that responded to both waves of the survey, more than half have increased their service levels since April. However, many are still operating at levels below what they had prior to the pandemic.

According to the survey, nonprofits are doing their best to provide services, which often means offering services through different methods than they did previously. More than half of the organizations currently providing services are doing so differently than they had in the past, (such as remotely,) in order to best support their clients and beneficiaries during this challenging, socially distanced time.

There are 40,521 charitable organizations in the state of Ohio, most of which are public charities, according to federal tax data.

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