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Kentucky nonprofits hit hard during the pandemic looking to rebound

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Tuesday marks the 9th annual Kentucky Gives Day, a day set aside to shine a light on the thousands of nonprofits working to serve Kentuckians daily.

Like a lot of sectors, the nonprofit world was been hit hard through the pandemic. Fundraisers were canceled or moved online and many saw a decline in giving while the demand for services only increased.

After seeing a year unlike any other, Kentucky nonprofits say a day like Kentucky Gives Day is more important than ever. If there is anyone who knows how hard this last year has been on a nonprofit, it’s the executive director at the Lexington Rescue Mission.

“Tumultuous, it was a crazy year for everybody,” said Laura Carr, Executive Director of the Lexington Rescue Mission.

Serving about 100 people a day, the Lexington Rescue Mission provides a hot meal and shelter to those who need it.

The challenges COVID-19 brought was one thing, but then another hit came in mid-November when a fire destroyed part of their building.

“It’s nothing you can ever expect, and it couldn’t have really come at a worse time,” said Carr.

But it was the kindness of others and support from the community that Carr says kept them going.

“And we didn’t skip a beat, we were able to continue serving meals everyday because our supporters and our partners in the community really stepped up and made it possible,” said Carr.

The Lexington Rescue Mission is one of 20,467 nonprofits in Kentucky, driving an annual revenue that totals $30.2 billion.

All were touched dramatically by the effects of COVID-19 when it comes to raising critical dollars in the last year.

“We have seen organizations impacted in so many different ways, this has not been a one size fits all pandemic for individuals, families and certainly not nonprofits,” said Danielle Clore with the Kentucky Nonprofit Network.

Clore says a recent survey of about 300 nonprofits in the state found 46% saw a significant revenue loss despite charitable giving rising in 2020.

“It was the larger nonprofits that saw those increases, so nonprofits who had an annual budget of less than a million dollars in annual revenue, they actually saw a decline in giving of about seven percent,” said Clore.

Clore says that’s concerning because in Kentucky 75 to 80 percent of nonprofits in Kentucky are in the category.

It’s why things like Kentucky Gives Day is so important to all charities, especially places like the Lexington Rescue Mission, that has now risen from the ashes thanks to the generosity of others.

“It’s when everybody’s gifts combine that we are able really to do good with that money,” said Carr.

Clore lobbied lawmakers in Frankfort to include nonprofit relief in the state budget, but it was not addressed.

Kentucky Gives Day is a 24-hour online giving campaign and will provide the 254 participating charities the opportunity to raise as much money as possible.

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