LGBT Non-Profits Plead for Donations

Volunteers work with what they have at Poverello. Photo credit: Carina Mask.

Most people are suffering in some way during the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. But non-profits are especially struggling during this time.

“While we cannot fully predict what is to come, we know that there is a crisis upon us now that puts our LGBT network of agencies at severe risk. Most of these agencies operate with lean balance sheets and do not have the reserves to withstand the crisis,” David Jobin, the CEO of Our Fund Foundation wrote in an email to supporters last week.

“In addition, we are hearing from agencies that the increased burden being placed on them by clients’ needs is making a bad situation worse.”

Jobin went on to plead their case to its donors.

“I challenge you to think about the agencies that matter to you and make a considerable gift today. Keeping in mind the savings you are experiencing by not being able to enjoy restaurants, clubs and entertainment, I hope you will consider increasing last year’s gifts at this critical time,” he wrote. “Non-profit agencies have never needed you more than they do at this moment.”

This is an especially perilous time for The Poverello Center, a food bank and thrift store in Wilton Manors. They’ve already had to reduce their workforce by 13 people and is struggling to stay afloat amid the burden of increased demands, and less cash.

Tom Pietrogallo, the executive director, said much of the organization’s money comes through its thrift store that has been forced to close down amid the coronavirus crisis.

According to Pietrogallo the store generates between $60,000 to $100,000 per month.

“With retail shut down, you see our dilemma,” Pietrogallo said. “Without some form of support just when our community needs us the most, we’ll be gone.”

The Poverello Center serves people living with critical and chronic illnesses including HIV, in South Florida. Besides being a food bank the center also offers haircuts, massages, chiropractic, acupuncture and a free gym for those in need.

Poverello is not the only organization that is, or will be, hurting for cash in the near future. The Pride Center at Equality Park sent out a plea Saturday.

“This crisis has caused the unavoidable postponement of several vital fundraising events which help to ensure that The Pride Center is able to continue our mission,” said Roger Roa, Director for Development of the Pride Center in an email to supporters.

Roa directed supporters to their Florida AIDS Walk fundraising page at FloridaAIDSwalk.org/goto/PrideCenter. Even though the actual AIDS Walk festival has been postponed, all donations will still be matched by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation through April 30.

“Your generosity in this difficult time will help us continue our mission both during and after this pandemic,” Roa continued.

Stephen Fallon, the executive director of Latinos Salud is also asking supporters to donate through their AIDS Walk page at https://bit.ly/3afR3LP.

“Should any readers be willing to make a donation at this time to Latinos Salud, we’d ask that they direct it through our team on the Florida AIDS Walk, where they generosity will be matched,” he told SFGN.

SAVE, the largest LGBT rights organization in Miami-Dade, also sent out a plea to supporters via email.

“Nonprofits throughout the world are going to take an unprecedented financial hit,” wrote Orlando Gonzales, SAVE’s executive director.

Besides the postponement of the AIDS Walk, the shut down is affecting its annual Champions of Equality Awards and community events like Miami Beach Pride.

“Without these events, we are challenged to continue our fundraising efforts while maintaining our focus on our mission to promote, protect and defend equality for people in South Florida who are LGBT,” he continued.

In a bit of good news for SAVE a donor has stepped up to match their AIDS Walk donations up to $50,000, which means every dollar would be tripled. To see the fundraising page visit www.save.lgbt/faw2020.

Last week David Jobin brought together leaders from a collection of LGBT related non-profits in Broward County to get them talking and working together during this shutdown. They plan on meeting virtually three times a week to discuss how they are dealing with the pandemic, and what they can do to support each other through this community wide crisis. 

“We are making sure we are aware of what each other is doing and be present for each other and for our community,” Robert Griffin, Executive Minister of Sunshine Cathedral told SFGN last week. While Mark Ketcham, executive director of SunServe added, “It is important that the agencies are talking to each other. We can help each other — hear where things might not be working, and need to shored up, and to just provide support to each other. It is a tough time right now.”


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