New fundraisers trying to aid ‘rough road for a lot of nonprofits’ in Butler County

Nonprofit organizations, such as the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League, has been fiscally challenged by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The organization has had to cancel some events, delay its adult and kids softball season, and may have to cancel its biggest fundraiser, the Miracle Ball. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

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Nonprofit organizations, such as the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League, has been fiscally challenged by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The organization has had to cancel some events, delay its adult and kids softball season, and may have to cancel its biggest fundraiser, the Miracle Ball. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

Organizations that lost annual events and other common means of earning donations because of coronavirus precautions are turning to new options for fundraising even if they can’t fully reopen.

The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League is using revenues children’s books by author Doug Coates as one of the few ways the organization receives financial support for its sports programming for special needs children and adults.

Coates, the league's treasurer, published "Pitching for Success" in March 2014 and "Riley's Winning Catch" in March and provides some additional income for the nonprofit whose message is "every kid, with every challenge, should get to play baseball."

“It concerns us,” said Miracle League volunteer CEO Kim Nuxhall, son of the late Reds Hall of Fame pitcher and announcer Joe Nuxhall. “There are just so many uncertainties. It’s a tough time to go out to ask anybody for any money.”

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As of Friday, more than 40,400 COVID-19 cases have been reported. More than 2,500 Ohioans have died due to COVID-19.

The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League, which already pushed its spring softball league to the fall, canceled its summer car show, its second-largest fundraiser, last week. Its top fundraiser, the Miracle Ball, which will honor former Reds batboy and author Teddy Kramer, is uncertain for 2020.

Fairfield Community Foundation President Linda Yarger said at least 75 percent of nonprofits have canceled or postponed events, and for many it’s likely their largest fundraiser.

Yarger is also a Fairfield Rotary Club member and said that service organization canceled in April its only fundraiser, which pays for all of its programs, including its dictionary, Thanksgiving and Christmas projects.

“The whole thing is, you have to be flexible,” she said.

Yarger and Nuxhall said they’re trying to come up with different ways to raise funds, but many groups will be competing for donations. And with the instability of the stock market, some regular donors are either holding back or giving significantly less.

“It’s going to be a rough road for a lot of nonprofits,” Nuxhall said.

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Nuxhall said virtual fundraising is something they're considering, and it's something Rev Causes, the fundraising arm of the band The Revivalists, did for the Fitton Center for the Creative Arts last month.

Band lead singer David Shaw, a Hamilton native and supporter of the Hamilton arts scene, told the Journal-News last month the virtual fundraiser with fans was a way to say, "We're here to help you out."

That fundraiser generated $5,000 for the Fitton Center.

Fitton Center Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley said though most of their fundraising comes through sponsors, “it’s always a challenge” for nonprofits.

“It’s a challenge on the very best of days, in the very best economies, in the very best of circumstances,” he said. “I have to give credit to the staff and board of the Fitton Center for making some tough choices in tough times.”

MacKenzie-Thurley said the center has developed a “strong business model” to ensure it continues to enrich the community through the arts and provide a community resource for organizations throughout Butler County. The Fitton Center had to cancel its current 2019-2020 season, which included some sold-out shows. About half the people who purchased advanced tickets donated the refunds back to the center, he said.

The lion’s share of the Fitton Center’s financial support comes from sponsors, but does rely on a fundraising campaign that lasts several months and grants from ArtsWave. But MacKenzie said they’re cognizant they may need to “pivot on a dime at any moment” with fundraising.

Nuxhall said they've already postponed the annual golf outing for the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund, which provides Butler County schools with scholarship money to award to graduating seniors. He said scholarship awards may have to be reduced for the 2020-2021 school year.

“I really don’t know if that’s possible to do this year,” Nuxhall said of the golf outing.

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