Nonprofit groups are expected to be hit hard as the COVID-19 crisis deepens, but one foundation in Arkansas hopes to provide aid to those community organizations in the coming weeks. The Arkansas Community Foundation (ACF) has started the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
About $130,000 is already in the fund, and Larkin said she hopes that further donations could push the fund up to $300,000. A simple application process for non-profits will start today and those applications will undergo an expedited consideration process. The goal is to release up to 65 $1,000 mini-grants by the first week in April, she added.
“We want our nonprofits to know that we and Arkansans are with them,” ACF President and CEO Heather Larkin said.
Mini-grants to nonprofits will be the initial phase of the aid, but money will also be allocated in a second phase later this spring, she said. Those funds will be targeted towards non-profits that are involved in the economic recovery once the crisis subsides.
ACF operates in 75 counties and has 28 local offices. It has two types of grant programs. The first is foundation grants, ones in which the organization decides which causes to fund. The second type of grants, donor grants, are driven by donors across the state. For instance, a donor might want to support helping hungry children, and ACF would find ways for that donor to spend on that cause, she said.
The organization has a treasure trove of information about communities throughout the state, she said. This information helps donors decide where and how to spend those donated dollars.
During this particular crisis, ACF is looking for donors who specifically want to donate in the areas of healthcare, food pantries, childcare, school systems, and other sectors that have been directly impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
The foundation has an endowment pool that is broadly diversified to help protect its assets during times of economic instability, she said. The endowment pool survived the Great Recession in 2008-09 and the dot-com bubble in 2000. It even survived in October of 1987 when the stock market fell 25% in one hour. Each of these declines seemed horrendous at the time, but the stock market bounced back, she added.
ACF is surveying agencies statewide to determine which communities are impacted by the disease. Information gathered will be used in the decision-making process to help the state recover from this global pandemic.
“Our reach is very extensive … we deploy a lot of resources,” Larkin said.