Impact Fairfield County Hosts “Global Pandemic – Local Impact” Conversation; Sets New Grant Funding and Membership Records

Impact Fairfield County (Impact FFC) held its second Impactful Conversation of the 2020/2021 grant year on the topic of “Global Pandemic – Local Impact: How our Nonprofit Partners are Pivoting to Overcome Challenges of COVID-19.”     

More than 55 virtual attendees joined for a panel discussion featuring local nonprofit leaders who have been at the forefront of adapting their services to meet the challenges of COVID-19, including Angela Schlingheyde, Director of Civil Legal and Court Advocacy at the Center for Family Justice (CFJ); Anka Badurina, Executive Director of Building One Community (B1C); and Shari Shapiro, Executive Director of Kids in Crisis (KIC). 

Karen Brown, VP of Development & Philanthropic Service, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, served as guest presenter. 

Nancy Better, Executive Director of S&L Marx Foundation, moderated the discussion.    

The panelists led a powerful and engaging discussion on the many challenges their clients are facing due to the pandemic, and how their organizations have pivoted to meet those immediate needs, including: 

  • At one point, calls to the CFJ’s domestic violence hotline were up 30%, with over half coming from first-time callers. With safe houses at capacity, the CFJ spent $50,000 on hotels, a significant unexpected cost.
  • KIC worked with homeless families that were forced to temporarily separate because they could not find safe housing together due to the pandemic.  
  • B1C developed a task force to ensure the COVID-19 information provided to their community was inclusive of language, education level, and comfort with accessing testing.  

Panelists also spoke to the potential longer-term implications of COVID-19, and the many ways in which they are adapting their organizations to address these issues. One key issue highlighted was the digital divide, including both access to the internet and device proficiency. Technology education was a common need identified during the pandemic that many nonprofits are now addressing.     

All three speakers also noted they have been touched by the local community’s support. While donors have stepped up to help, nonprofits have been unable to host their usual in-person fundraising events — KIC noted they have lost close to $1 million in funding due to event cancellations — while their expenses have increased, making support more important now than ever.    

However, one silver lining has been how the nonprofits have strengthened their relationship with other local organizations, as they come together to address the evolving challenges of this pandemic. 

“It was really inspiring to hear how nonprofits are lifting each other up during this time, working together to provide support and wraparound services to their constituents, and building stronger connections with funders and local government officials,” said Steviann Martines, Co-President of Impact FFC.    

During this time of increased need, Impact FFC has set new membership and grant funding records. 247 women – the largest membership since Impact FFC’s inception – have stepped up to help, enabling at least $247,000 in grants to be awarded to local nonprofits in May 2021.    

Impact FFC is a collective giving circle whose mission is to empower women to engage in local philanthropy through deeper knowledge and active participation in grantmaking. It unites women by pooling membership funds to provide large, transformational grants to nonprofit organizations across Fairfield County. Since its inception in 2016, Impact FFC has provided over $1 million in grant funding to local nonprofits.     

For more information or to join Impact FFC, please contact [email protected].