Coronavirus impact: Bay Area nonprofits stressed by mandates to cancel fundraising events

As the financial markets continue to contract, nonprofit groups are facing a downturn of their own from having to cancel fundraising events under new coronavirus guidelines.

Hundreds of party favors are no longer needed after Housing Trust Silicon Valley cancelled its biggest fundraising event of the year, scheduled for Friday.

It's an event that fills the Santa Clara Convention Center with 600 to 700 people who support its efforts to create affordable housing and to help the homeless.

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No event puts sponsor pledges of over $320,000 in limbo. Another $20,000 to $40,000 has been lost from on the spot donations.
"We have a lot of people come that are sort of new and never realized there was such an industry or such a movement around housing that's affordable," said Chief Development Officer Julie Quinn. "And so we get a lot of new people who are sort of moved to make a donation day of."

Efforts to stop or discourage large events have hit smaller nonprofits, such as the Rotary Club of San Jose, the Community Youth Center in San Francisco's Chinatown, and Artspan's benefit auction to support the arts community.

The organization Okizu has cancelled a fundraiser that sponsors summer camps for families dealing with childhood cancer. The fundraiser, which was scheduled for this weekend at Fort Mason in San Francisco, allows them to send 400 kids to the camp cost free.

"We're hoping that we can do it later," said executive director Dr. Stuart Kaplan. "If not, we're hoping the generosity of our donors, which has been so great and so consistent, will come through."

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Nonprofits must now make up the lost revenue or reschedule events. Corporate sponsors could be facing a dip in the economy because of the coronavirus and might reduce support.

"Let's hope that organizations, businesses do the right thing to keep nonprofits operating in the short term, and then we've got to look at longer term solutions," said Matt Mahood, CEO of The Silicon Valley Organization, a regional business group.

The Housing Trust's party favors won't go to waste. They'll be sent to event sponsors to remind them their support is still needed.

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