It has been more than a year since the Texas COVID Relief Fund was launched in May 2020, and we want to thank our partners for their commitment to building the resilience of Texas communities during this extraordinary time. Every dollar donated, every hour spent on a socially distanced video call, and every conversation about how we can help Texans recover have mattered greatly to our state.
Through the generosity of our donors, we were able to provide $955,350 in critical funding to 16 organizations, which in turn served nearly 475,000 individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the year, we met with each of these grantees to have insightful conversations about their needs and experiences, which we are excited to share in our Texas COVID Relief Fund Progress Report. As we discussed opportunities and lessons learned, here are five key themes that emerged, along with words directly from our grantees.
- General operating funds provided nonprofits the flexibility to use funds as needs arose. Nonprofits appreciated the ability to increase staff size, build internal capacity through improved business processes, and pilot new service models to adapt to pandemic safety protocols. “We used flexible operational funding to investigate and identify operational efficiencies in the service model needed for long-term stability.”
- Virtual programming increased the ability of nonprofits to reach larger, more diverse audiences. Funding allowed organizations to increase and diversify their pool of volunteers and new hires, shift organizational culture to include more diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, and move forward system-change goals. “We’ve identified a need to broaden our target audience by reaching new audiences where they are through outreach & engagement on platforms and at times most accessible to them.”
- Volunteers stepped up to help their neighbors and community. Committed and adaptable volunteers were more important than ever to nonprofits facing increased community needs and limited staff capacity. In the face of distancing requirements, volunteers found safe and innovative ways to continue to provide support. “Although most of our volunteers are age 65 or over, a keenly vulnerable population during the pandemic, they continued to give their time and energy. That shows their passion and love for our mission.”
- Partnerships between local community organizations increased. The pandemic created opportunities to build community cohesion and highlighted the importance of collaboration as multiple service providers linked up to meet increasingly complex and interconnected needs. “Coordinated efforts via partnership with local organizations allowed us to serve the whole family, rather than just children.”
- Resilience and clarity of purpose kept leaders moving forward. Nonprofits were navigating the compounding stress of several unprecedented events at once as the COVID-19 pandemic and Winter Storm Uri destabilized communities. These concurrent events delayed timelines and required additional operational pivots in services, challenging leaders to stay focused and resourceful. “The Winter Storm required us to pivot drastically. We remained nimble, did not let policy paralyze us so we could continue to serve our mission, and used all the resources at our disposal—including staff who were eager to serve.”
We are grateful for the efforts of our partners who have served Texas communities diligently through the good and bad days of the pandemic. As vaccination uptake increases and some sense of “normalcy” returns, we acknowledge our unprecedented collective journey through moments of immense grief and suffering as well as triumph and hope, and we look forward to continuing to learn and grow through these shared experiences.
Please download our Texas COVID Relief Fund Progress Report for more information, and check out our current disaster response initiative, the Rebuild Texas Hurricane Season Recovery Fund.