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Non-profits Adapting to Survive Crisis | News

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(Des Moines) — Non-profits are navigating a path of financial stress and uncertainty amid the pandemic and the economic crisis it’s causing.

In Iowa, a key health organization said it’s seeing the effect and making changes.

The American Heart Association (AHA) division that serves greater Des Moines is expanding a key fundraising initiative to run year-round.

David Stark, president of UnityPoint Health and an AHA board member, said money that’s still coming is prompting a shift in priorities.

He noted there’s a lot of focus right now on short-term research looking at the effects of the coronavirus.

“[For example], the impact of high blood pressure as it relates to susceptibility for coronavirus,” Stark outlined. “So very specific, very focused effort on hypertension.”

Some short-term research is being done in Iowa, and Stark said that means donations can have a local impact.

Hypertension awareness is part of the group’s annual “Heart Ball” campaign, which now runs an entire year to maximize donor potential.

A report released this fall by the Charities Aid Foundation of America showed 9 in 10 nonprofits worldwide are being squeezed by the crisis.

Stark explained other priorities, such as childhood obesity outreach, are on the back burner for now, in part because safely connecting with students in schools isn’t possible.

Bob Montgomery, vice president and general manager of OnMedia, chairs the Heart Ball campaign and works with other local non-profits. He said there’s been consistent declines in contributions.

“It’s interesting really because what I have seen in most of these is that the number of supporters if you will – people who make donations and support the cause – is actually up for most folks,” Montgomery observed. “But the size of those donations is down and in some cases, considerably.”

He added they hope by making this year’s Heart Ball a 12-month campaign, they can attract enough support so there won’t be a drastic reduction of outreach and research done in Iowa. The actual event, the Ball, has also been pushed back from February to June.

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