By: Rishi Moudgil
This was originally published in the Detroit Free Press Opinion section. Below is an excerpt:
During our rapidly evolving public health crisis, I called off SHIFT, last week’s GreenLight Fund Detroit annual event. Our goal is to shift economic mobility upwards for local children and families, and like many other social impact organizations, these hosted events are a cornerstone of our work. They not only serve as critical fundraisers, but they gather significant awareness, support, and momentum for needs throughout our community.
By representing a coalition of Detroiters, I have a unique and privileged vantage of many other community-based organizations, and they are hurting. Not only have they lost significant revenue and support through canceled events, but they are stretched even thinner as they tend to our most vulnerable populations.
So while a lot of attention during this crisis is rightfully focused on visible sectors — government, healthcare, education, and business — let’s also shine a light on the social sector, which includes nonprofits, grassroots initiatives, arts, and philanthropy. Often a silent link among resources, opportunities, and residents’ lives, this sector plays a vital role in serving the needs not met by the private and public sectors in everyday life.
“Often a silent link among resources, opportunities, and residents’ lives, this sector plays a vital role in serving the needs not met by the private and public sectors in everyday life.”
We are already seeing Detroiters rising up to face this crisis as numerous organizing efforts have multiplied. These actions range from neighborhood-level volunteer drives for transit, food deliveries, and information sharing, to institutional collaboration such as the nascent multi-million dollar philanthropic COVID-19 Community Response Fund housed at the United Way of Southeastern Michigan. Existing charities with slim budgets are extending their services and themselves, despite the increased operational challenges of social distancing and diminishing resources.
The U.S. nonprofit industry employs 10% of our overall workforce, contributes a significant portion of our GDP, and often includes the most difficult jobs and services. By nature of their independence and being directly informed by the people seeking change, community-based plans get right to the heart of local need. And right now, these efforts need your help, especially if you have the means to contribute time or resources.
So what could you do right now?