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Breaking It Down: Fundraising during a pandemic

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 6:47 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “There’s a lot of downsides to COVID, obviously, but there’s been a great upside to this, to see the generosity of a community come together and say, 'Alright, who needs help? How can we help? What can we do?” said Major Mark Martsolf, The Salvation Army of Rockford & Winnebago County.

With the coronavirus pandemic affecting the methods non-profits typically use to fundraise, like pancake breakfasts and donation drives, United Way of Rock River Valley Vice President Linda Sandquist says organizations are forced to make major adjustments.

“I think across the board revenues of nonprofit agencies are down because of attendance and their programming, but also I think because of fundraising, I think people are as generous as they have always been, but it’s become much more difficult to figure out how to give my favorite organization, the money that I used to give them,” said Linda Sandquist, United Way of Rock River Valley.

With money tight for donors across the region, Winnebago County Salvation Army Coordinator Major Mark Martsolf says people feel secure knowing their money will stay in their community.

“It’s going to help feed people, it’s going to help clothe people, it’s going to help with rent and utilities and those types of things. So people can be assured that we’re trying to be the best stewards of what’s been entrusted to us and get it to the people who need it the most,” said Martsolf.

This year, both organizations are trying something new. United Way is partnering with the Dollywood Foundation to give kids from birth until kindergarten a new book every month to build their own library and the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is going digital.

Sandquist says no matter the obstacle, she urges people to continue to be as generous as they can.

“Unfortunately, we all are just constrained by time and energy and getting our messaging out, but again, if there’s something you really like in town: go on their website and give them a donation because it could be the difference between them staying open and being able to serve the community in the future and shutting their doors,” said Sandquist.

Rockford will kick off its red kettle campaign this Saturday, as bell ringers take to local Schnucks stores to gather donations.

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