COVID-19 taking its toll on non-profit organizations

The fears and precautions surrounding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are taking its toll on non-profit community-based organizations. From canceled fundraisers to volunteers who no longer show up to help, many non-profits are beginning to worry how much longer they can hold out.   

At the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, dozens of volunteers normally help sort and bag the fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday, just a handful of volunteers showed up for their shift.

"We believe and know the Coronavirus is the cause of this," said Paul Ash the food bank's executive director.

So far,1,500 food bank volunteers, more than a third of the ranks, have cancelled this month. Many more simply don't show up.

"On a long-term basis, we ca't do our work without volunteers. Maybe for a few weeks we can do these Band-Aid fixes, but on a long-term basis we need to get them back here," said Ash.

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Because the volunteer army is so depleted, there are fewer people to sort produce by hand.

The food bank now buys more pre-sorted products, but they are more expensive. The food bank is using emergency funding.

"There will be a reckoning at some point," said Ash.

Other non-profits are experiencing a different problem from the pandemic: fund raising.

ArtSpan in San Francico, which helps connect artists with the public through a variety of programs, was forced to cancel its fund raiser for next week.

The gathering would have exceeded the city's threshhold of 50 people in one place.

"500 people come togther in celebration of the arts and support us. We had to cancel it. And we really had no options for postponing it because we don't know the radar. Corona is moving so fast," said Joen Madonna, executive director of ArtSpan.

At Larkin Street Youth Services, which provides help and housing for homeless young people, Friday's gala is now off. Organizers say would have raised about a $1 million.

"It will potentially mean we are going to have to think about how are we going to provide these services. Whether or not we are going to be able to provide those services at the level we are now," said Larkin Street head Sherilyn Adams.

The donation-dependent non-profits worry how long they can hold out financially.