Charities scramble for backup plans as coronavirus strikes during fundraising season

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The timing of the coronavirus could be financially catastrophic for the roughly 93,000 nonprofit organizations that operate out of New York.

This time of year is crucially important for nonprofit fundraising - it is gala season.

The Gilda's Club of Westchester is one of thousands of nonprofits across the tri-state area forced to cancel or postpone their biggest fundraisers of the year.

The group says the gala raises one-third of its operating budget, which is roughly $500,000.

Executive director Jen Scully says without that funding, many of the programs they offer to cancer patients could be at risk.

“This income is what lets us keep our doors open,” she says.

Gilda’s Club has decided to switch gears and create an online fundraising event called The No Gala, Gala.

For organizers, it’s time to work the phones.

“We are making hundreds of phone calls to organizations and telling them ‘stay with us,’” says Robert Sanders, of the Hospitality Resource Group. Sanders organizes many large charity events throughout Westchester, Long Island and the Bronx.

He is now pleading with people to remember that usually local charities are the lifeblood of the community – and now they are the ones in need of a lifeline.

New York is home to the third largest number of nonprofits in the country, providing roughly 1.5 million jobs.

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