Like many other businesses and organizations throughout the country, Healdsburg’s nonprofits are having to come to terms with the current and future economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. While some local nonprofits, like the Healdsburg Center for the Arts, are forthcoming about the struggle to stay funded during this time, others, like the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Sonoma County, are maintaining a more stable financial footing. In response, local nonprofits are amping up their efforts and trying to think of ways to bring their usual fundraisers and programs online.
This difference in financial impact is, in part, due to the nature of the nonprofit in question. Nonprofit organizations that get much of their funding from events, whether it be regular performing arts events or large fundraising events, have had to cancel their main sources of revenue without an idea of when those events may be able to be rescheduled.
Healdsburg Center for the Arts
“On March 15, (Healdsburg Center for the Arts) temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. While there is, of course, never a good time for a crisis, this was particularly unfortunate timing for the organization, as it meant having to cancel several critical fundraising events, upon which this nonprofit depends. It also meant having to close our gallery, cancel classes and postpone exhibits, all of which normally generate funds for our work,” wrote HCA in a public fundraising appeal run through gofundme.com.
HCA has since started to offer two online art classes online through Zoom, and its online store has art kits available to purchase. The center’s current exhibit, “Figure it Out” is also available to view digitally at https://healdsburgcenterforthearts.org/figure-it-out/#gallery.
Since it first published its GoFundMe appeal on March 25, HCA has received $6,090 of its $25,000 goal.
The Raven Performing Arts Theater
The Raven Performing Arts Theater also had to cancel its lengthy roster of events following the announcement of the county’s shelter-in-place order. However, the Raven is in a slightly better financial position.
“Luckily we run on a very lean, lean ship. We always have, and we’re very fortunate that we own the building, so other than the utilities we don’t have that (payment),” said Tom Brand, executive director of the Raven Performing Arts Theater in a mid-April interview with the Tribune. “I’m really the only paid employee … although four months of not having any income is pretty hard.”
Brand said that the Raven has always aimed to have enough money to cover four months of operations, but said that the theater is also hoping to get money from the Payroll Protection Program to help cover the payroll for his position and the theater’s part-time staff.
“We’re sitting there like everybody else, waiting to hear what’s happening,” he said.
Looking forward, one of his main concerns is how the Raven would navigate potentially reopening with social distancing regulations in place.
“We have about 450 seats, and there are a lot of shows that need 450 seats, but there are a lot of shows we do where we only need 100 seats or 50 seats … I could imagine that we could do certain programming and maintain social distancing in the audience because of the size of our auditorium,” he said.
A main component of how to navigate a new set-up would be reliant on the “feel of the audience,” he said. Having people spread out throughout the 450 seats will likely change the feel of the audience, and Brand said that overall caution among community members may lessen the number of attendees regardless.
In the meantime, the Raven is launching its own set of virtual events. It has a “radio play” version of “Macbeth” forthcoming in May, as well as an ongoing virtual cocktail hour that’s broadcast live on the theater’s Facebook page every Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
For Corazón Healdsburg, the shelter-in-place order meant having to cancel its main fundraiser, which helps raise money to support the day-to-day operation of Corazón.
“We have been trying to figure out what to do to pivot that event from an in-person 150-person event,” said Corazón CEO Ariel Kelley.
The fundraiser, Event of the Heart, will be hosted online in the form of a live auction and will take place the same day it was scheduled to take place in-person, Kelley said.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve gotten the opportunity to watch and learn from some of the other organizations that have had to make that shift already, so we’re kind of learning from them, and we’re getting some really great feedback about what worked and what didn’t,” she said. “We’re also talking to our donors and attendees about what they think would work well for them.”
When asked if Corazón has seen an increase or decrease in donations, Kelley said that the nonprofit has seen donations increase to its Community Unity Fund, which can only be used to assist those who have been impacted by COVID-19.
As part of its program, Corazón has been giving out food to people in need and has seen an increase in people attending food distribution events. Since the beginning of the shelter-in-place order, the number of people coming to pick up food has been steadily increasing, with more recent numbers being in the 1,500 range.
“We can always raise more (money), but initially we’ve seen a really great response,” she said.
Fundraising for Corazón’s unrestricted fund, La Cosecha, helps pay for “areas of greatest need that pop up,” Kelley said.
“We’re a little bit unsure of what the future looks like — we’re a little concerned about how to make up the loss of revenue from our summer event,” she said.
Corazón’s summer fundraiser usually brings in around $350,000.
The Healthcare Foundation of Sonoma County
For the Healthcare Foundation of Sonoma County, the focus has been on raising money for local health providers.
“We’re very stable,” said Kim Bender, the foundation’s executive director, when asked about the foundation’s finances. “I’m benefitting from 20 years of good stewardship for the foundation. We’re a foundation that raises money to help those other organizations so they don’t have to worry about fundraising — and we’re the only organization specifically doing that.”
Bender said right now, the organization is focused on trying to help out the local health organizations. Most recently, the Healthcare Foundation issued its first round of Emergency Healthcare Fund grants to local health organizations working with vulnerable community members during COVID-19. The funds were met with a $20,000 matching grant.
“It’s a national problem that all health care providers are struggling with, because people aren’t coming in with the bread and butter regular appointments,” Bender said, noting that due to a decrease in appointments, some local health organizations have lost around two-thirds of their regular income. “Our focus right now is on the clinics that are serving low-income people. We’re a small organization, but we want to make a difference whenever we can.”
As part of its increased funding efforts during the pandemic, the Healthcare Foundation is also looking into hosting more live web events, like the one they hosted on May 8 about what community members should pay attention to as the shelter-in-place order starts to be lifted.
Who will be left standing?
“I think we have to ask ourselves as a community, who do we want to see … still having their doors open and still providing goods to the community while we weather this storm,” Kelley said. “I think we as community members, all of us, get to make decisions on where we shop, where we eat, where we spend our disposable income. I think that same thought should be (applied to) nonprofits. When we’re out of this storm, what organizations do we want to make sure can weather it?”