HELENA — Since COVID-19 reached Montana, nonprofits have faced the social services challenges head-on to help those in need.
The Montana Nonprofit Association (MNA) is working to make sure Montana nonprofits, members or not, have the resources they need to make it through these tough times.
Since the pandemic began, MNA has helped nonprofits with work from home plans, developed step-by-step guides for funding opportunities, and held daily town hall meetings to answer questions and help individual organizations.
“It’s been similar to how it’s been for businesses and people,” said MNA Executive Director Liz Moore. “Everyone is searching for information and clarity at a time when it seems eternally elusive.”
It’s easy to see how important nonprofits are right now. Social services are at the forefront of the pandemic, with some food banks seeing more than a 200% increase in clients they serve. These organizations weren’t formed to combat the effects of the pandemic, however. Most have been operating for years to improve their communities.
“They are standing in where business or government either can’t or won’t,” explained Moore. “Fulfilling kind of this wish for the quality of life we want by solving problems, taking care of those who are more in need. The nonprofit structure is kind of the ultimate expression of the will of the people in terms of how we want life to be in our communities.”
Moore understands better than most the tragedy of the pandemic as she lost her mother to COVID-19, "iIt was very shocking to be spending so much time on COVID-19 and then get a text message that my mother was diagnosed.
Moore desperately wanted to be with her mother in Tennessee but wasn’t able to due to health restrictions. The cruelty of COVID-19 lies with its necessary treatment. Severe COVID patients are isolated to protect others from contracting the virus. If they don’t recover, they die without their family by their side.
“This focus towards nonprofits suddenly became very personal. I guess it just changed everything because now every conversation about COVID, which is my daily life right now carries this element of my mother,” said Moore.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come, and some of its damage will never fully recover. There is a real concern they won’t be able to make it through this for many non-profits.
“The world of fundraising is going to be uncertain. That’s part of the business plan for nonprofits,” said Moore.
MNA says right now nonprofits need continued financial support from those that are able. There are relief funds set up across the state to help struggling Montana organizations make it through the pandemic.
Moore says it’s not an easy path forward. It will be months or years before nonprofits have fully recovered, but it can be done.
“It’s not that nonprofits are more important than business or government, but we’re right alongside,” said Moore. “We need a functioning government a vibrant business sector and we need a healthy strong nonprofit community. That’s how Montana works. We are all in it together.”