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Jul 12th, 2022

Tough Times Don't Last, Tough Nonprofits Do.

How Catchafire is addressing the recession and helping communities.

Matt Miszewski
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The signs of a struggling economy are among us. Today, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 9.1%, the highest level in over 40 years. Businesses, schools, social services, and nonprofits are grappling to figure out how to operate during this sudden rise in daily costs. As we all brace ourselves for the recession, my team and I are announcing today how we intend on showing up during this next cycle of uncertainty. Despite knowing we’re all at capacity—foundations, nonprofits, donors, capacity building providers—we all know now is the time for us each to stand up with solutions.

Coming from a family of labor activists and having a background in economics, I can say with certainty that difficult times lie ahead. But, I also know that we will pull through, especially when we take the time to reflect on lessons learned. Economic crises shine a bright light on the underlying problems of racism, sexism, and economic oppression—exposing the weaknesses of our systems. We know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by systemic racism and experience a myriad of injustices in our society that often prove deadly. At the intersections of race, gender, and poverty, history shows us that a recession will make these systemic challenges even worse.

As a recession looms over the United States, we know nonprofits will continue to experience an increased demand in services, and nonprofits will again be forced to rise to provide services that contribute to basic needs and safe communities. Most of these nonprofits, specifically small organizations working in our most vulnerable cities and communities, will attempt this without the capacity support they need to get it done.

As we prepare for economic strain, we are taking steps to remove barriers to equity to strengthen all of our communities. In order to protect at-risk communities and strengthen BIPOC-led organizations and systemically disadvantaged activists, today, we launch ‘Strong Communities’. In partnership with local funders, corporations, and government, our initiative provides access to essential operational support to an expanded range of BIPOC oriented organizations in ten cities in the United States that we know will be severely impacted by the recession. Based on historical and recession data, those ten cities are:

  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Dallas Fort-Worth
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington D.C

Why 10 cities to start? We’ve made the commitment to strategically invest in communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and those who will be severely impacted by the unpredictable waves of a recession. Our goal is to enable 500 systemically disconnected nonprofits with Catchafire services in each city. As a result, over 5,000 BIPOC oriented nonprofits will pull through this crisis even tougher than they already are. We can only achieve this focused outcome as a community, and so this means that we need partners in government, foundations, and individual donors —including volunteers—to reach our goal. Together, as a beloved community, we can dismantle systems that stop us from reaching our potential and leave behind new institutions that will construct a new, more just, system.

What is “Strong Communities” specifically? Catchafire services make it easier to meet the needs of nonprofits and the communities they serve in good times and in tough times. Our global volunteer base lends their time and expertise to nonprofit organizations across the country. A telecommuting expert in the San Francisco Bay Area can help a food bank in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A fundraiser in Texas can help a rural community foundation in Michigan. An analyst in New York can help a Virginia after-school program create a risk plan. Technology is allowing us to overcome geographic barriers. With those walls knocked down, we will partner with communities across the country to build stronger systems and in this particular moment, together, we can help the philanthropic world address our most poignant problem—recession.

  • For every 100 nonprofits brought to us by a funder, we’ll add 50 more that research shows are traditionally disconnected to resources during a recession.
  • In each funder package, we will make available a sponsorship opportunity for a Community Manager local to the community of their choice to build local nonprofit capacity, and work directly with the additional 50 local organizations.
  • Catchafire volunteers will continue to assist nonprofits with key recession planning needs so they can stay focused on their mission while we help them handle projects related to:
    • Fundraising
    • Human Resources
    • Copywriting
    • Operations Management
    • Technical Assistance
    • Advocacy and Events
  • The Catchafire Events & Engagement Team will be engaged in specific programming and events for nonprofits and foundations surrounding pronounced needs during and throughout a recession; including financial management, highlighting cash control, strategic planning in economic downturns, and how to leverage Catchafire in a resource constrained environment.
  • We’re launching a BIPOC Leadership Group to support this vibrant community with regular convenings of organizations in similar situations to help the community more easily stand up together to provide coaching, support and resources to one another—by this community, and for this community.

This is where my team and I are starting. Today, and for the foreseeable future, we’ll be working alongside our existing funding partners and nonprofit community to meet the moment and help.

History may have shown us what might happen, but this time around we will not stand by and let it happen again. Together, Stronger Communities will rise and meet the challenge.

Join our Strong Communities initiative here:

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