BCF Fund For Non-Profit Pandemic Recovery

August 4, 2020

The Bermuda Community Foundation [BCF] is getting set to launch a fund to “stabilise the at-risk nonprofit sector” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson said, “Bermuda’s community foundation – the Bermuda Foundation [BCF] – is to launch a fund to stabilise the at-risk nonprofit sector. The Bermuda Nonprofit Stabilisation Fund is designed to shore up the hard-hit nonprofits, many of them now struggling to recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

“The BCF and others in the philanthropic community are concerned about the impact on Bermuda of a widespread loss of nonprofits providing important services. Surveys of the current state of the nonprofit sector indicate that the nature of its constituent organisations make them vulnerable at a time when they are needed more than ever. Nonprofits providing a wide range of services

  • depend on donations to operate
  • do not have cash reserves or endowment funds
  • do not receive government grants even for needed community services
  • are not eligible for the small business bailout funding
  • operate on a hand-to-mouth existence
  • are already streamlined, without the ability to cut back their lean operations if they are to be effective.

“There are just over 100 registered charities providing services to the community in the areas of education, youth development, arts, culture and heritage, sport, seniors support, environmental conservation and at-risk and marginalised populations.”

“We need to make sure these organisations remain in business,” said Dr Myra Virgil, Managing Director of the Bermuda Foundation.

“If they go, our community will lose some vital services.” The BCF has prepared a special report Managing Philanthropy Through Crisis which includes a review of Bermuda’s social safety net and the current threat to nonprofits.”

Michael Schrum, Chair of the BCF, said, “Also, we must remember that this sector employs over 1,000 people, contributes some $78 m or 1% to Bermuda’s GDP. If we let it collapse, it will be costly in terms of unemployment and loss of services currently provided at a fraction of what they would cost if they were carried out by the public or private sector. These organisations are going to be needed by Bermuda as we follow the road to recovery.”

The spokesperson said, “Donors have already expressed an interest in supporting a fund to assist nonprofits. The Stabilisation Fund will focus on making operating grants to nonprofits that have experienced unexpected costs due to the pandemic.

“These grants will be to subsidise running costs to enable the organisations to focus on strategic and safe decisions around their programmes, operational redesign, financial viability, staff retention, contraction and more. Grants could be directed towards:

  • Critical overhead expenses, such as a portion of payroll or other staffing needs
  • Lost revenue due to programme, meeting or event cancellations
  • Technology upgrades or purchase of virtual communication platforms to continue services
  • Supplies related to health and hygiene to comply with Health regulations
  • Items needed to enable remote operations, such as distance learning
  • Other operational costs related to shifts in direct service plans – such as professional development, support to develop a crisis response or new strategic plan, assessment on cost efficiencies.

“In an effort to have maximum impact, the Fund’s application will be streamlined, with clear criteria and accountability indicators.

“This is the second fund the Bermuda Foundation has established since the pandemic closed Bermuda down. On March 15, the Emergency Fund was set up under the BCF’s stewardship, as a community vehicle to deploy funds quickly and accountably to organisations providing essential services such as food, shelter, safety and medical help.

“Almost $2.5 million so far has been donated to the fund by individuals, companies, groups and private foundations.”

The Bermuda Diabetes Association said, “The [Emergency Fund] help was truly a lifesaver for so many of our clients who found themselves unemployed and uninsured. Living through a crisis is a stressful enough but the added stress of not being to afford essential medicines compounds this situation.”

Dr Virgil said, “There was no time to waste, and the Emergency Fund enabled us to act nimbly and deploy funds as soon as they were needed. We know this work needs to continue for the next three to six months and Bermuda’s Emergency Fund will carry on providing grants for essential service providers.”

“In summary, we will continue to manage the Emergency Fund for up to six months as people are still needing food and other assistance.

“The new Nonprofit Stabilisation Fund will address the threat to the nonprofit sector, which we and our colleagues in philanthropy understand is vital to Bermuda’s health, enrichment and stability. We have to ensure Bermuda’s nonprofits survive and are able to continue to bring value to our community. We invite foundations, companies, individuals and the Government to join us in this effort.”

The spokesperson said, “To contribute to the Bermuda Nonprofit Stabilisation Fund, click here.

“To read more about this initiative and how philanthropy was managed through the pandemic, see the BCF’s special report.

“Grant application forms will be available on August 7, 2020. Application and eligibility criteria will be posted to www.bcf.bm.

The Managing Philanthropy Through Crisis report follows below [PDF here]:

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