Imagine having a crystal ball last year that would have revealed how 2020 would unfold. We would have thought it was a fictional movie plot—not believing it at all!
We didn’t know the themes of change, uncertainty, and loss would rise even before the first quarter passed. Our world has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic; everyone has had to reorient family- work- and school-lives; many in our community have lost jobs or housing; some are living under constant financial stress and have no food; others have lost family and friends to COVID-19. Our country has reckoned with racist policies and actions against its own citizens. At OCF, we lost our beloved friend and colleague Kali Baker to cancer this year.
We feel all of these losses deeply and our hearts go out to each of you who have felt them, too. But along with the suffering, we are consciously mindful of the goodness and generosity the year’s events have inspired throughout this community. We’ve all showed up for each other during a difficult year, and it’s allowed us to see the immediate impact of our work.
When the pandemic first arrived, the Foundation moved quickly to launch our COVID-19 Response Fund to support nonprofits who are serving thousands of individuals and families most impacted by COVID-19 in our community. To date, 6,500 community members have given to the Response Fund, helping more than 50 nonprofits throughout this community who provide basic needs support including food, shelter, healthcare, and mental health services.
As another response to the pandemic, the Foundation partnered with Douglas County to distribute $28 million in CARES Act funding. We moved swiftly to implement two grant programs for nearly 320 nonprofits who may have otherwise had to cease providing services to the thousands of community residents who benefit from their work.
This community displayed its remarkable capacity to give during the final Omaha Gives this year, too. The giving day had its best-ever year since it began eight years ago, raising $8.5 million during the 24-hour celebration, with a record number of donations and donors who participated.
On top of this, our 2,100 Foundation fundholders have stepped up their giving substantially this year. To date, we know that our fundholders have granted out 33% more grants this year than in 2019, which accounts for a 43% increase in the number of dollars going to nonprofits.
It is evident that this community knows that we are all in this together and is rising to the challenge that 2020 has offered up. We are proud of all the good you’ve contributed to in each of your own ways. Thank you for meeting this crisis with courage, strength, and generosity and continuing this commitment into 2021.