OPINION: COVID-19 has strengthened fundraising programs


Jared Sindt

Have fundraising programs survived the impact of COVID-19? Photo courtesy of Strictly Business Omaha.

COVID-19 has hurt small businesses, programs and all forms of financial gatherings that involve in-person purchases or donations.

One would think this includes fundraising programs such as the Ronald McDonald house, but evidence would point to the contrary.

In 2019, the Ronald McDonald house had the smallest gap between revenue and expenses that it’s had in years prior. This could be a product of overspending on events, poor exposure or people just starting to donate to organizations less.

In 2020 however, COVID hit, and statistics from their website are not shown, so to get this information I decided to interview the Chief Executive Officer of the Ronald McDonald house, Lindsey Rai Kortan.

She expressed that although many events had to be cancelled, the community brought their best to keep the McDonald house producing.

“I really feel like the success we’ve achieved from a philanthropic standpoint is a true representation of how incredible the Omaha community is,” Kortan said. “They (the community) said no, we are standing with you shoulder to shoulder and making sure we are taking advantage of opportunities we’ve never used before, such as government funding.”

Kortan expressed that almost all their in-person events had to be cancelled and all their third-party events had to be cancelled as well. They had to resort to virtual events that Kortan deemed greatly successful, but overall, virtual events proved less fruitful.

It proved difficult for these fundraising programs to create revenue in a world where fundraising events couldn’t be done, but Kortan expressed that success is deemed by how you look at it.

“It’s so much more than just a dollar amount of that gap that needs to be filled,” Kortan said. “Not being able to incorporate those volunteers created a larger gap of need that we can’t fulfill as easily because we relied on other people to do the work.”

The pandemic created a variety of issues for the McDonald house, and none seemed to be greater than the other. Workload and revenue were two main focuses that were hit, but Kortan believes that government funding and getting creative through virtual events is what really helped keep the house afloat.

Although it seems like fundraising programs weren’t strengthened from COVID, one must look at the bigger picture to see how this will affect these programs in the future.

COVID brought so many of these programs into the limelight, with their struggles being highlighted and the community banning together to help the organizations that truly needed it.

In the long run, the fact that few fundraising programs actually lost money due to the pandemic is a testament to what the community is capable of when they put their mind to it.

So, in the future, I truly believe that since COVID brought so many fundraising programs into the light for people to help, these programs will only see more success in the future thanks to the exposure and creativity of the people running them.