Billy the Give Big Goat and Little Billy's Social Distancing Message

Billy the Give Big Goat and Little Billy’s social-distancing message

In good times, California nonprofits are under-resourced.

According to the California Association of Nonprofits (, 70% of charities are all-volunteer-run, 68% of those that receive government funding (federal, state and local) say it does not cover the full cost of contracted programs and services, and 33% of nonprofit leaders say federal funding has decreased for them in the last 12 months.

Survey data from nonprofit and social enterprise lender the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s latest “State of the Sector” report from 2018, reveals that 86% of nonprofits nationally say demand for services keeps rising, yet 66% of them find offering competitive pay for employees a top challenge and, for seven consecutive years, fewer than 25% of nonprofits surveyed have said they had more than six months of cash in reserve.

San Joaquin Valley nonprofits, including those in Kern, fare even worse, according to CalNonprofits:

• Valley nonprofits serve 11% of the state’s population but only receive 4% of total nonprofit revenue compared to Bay Area nonprofits, which serve 19% of the state’s population but receive 35% of the state’s nonprofit revenue.

• Bay Area and Los Angeles foundations together control 89% of all foundation grantmaking dollars, while San Joaquin Valley foundations control only 1%.

• Of all California nonprofits receiving government funding, 66% (a whole two-thirds) are in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego, while only 6% are in the San Joaquin Valley.

Enter COVID-19. These are bad times and nonprofits are struggling even more.

A number of community-based organizations have had to cancel much-needed fundraisers in March, April and May due to social-distancing requirements. Shelter-in-place directives have caused many of them to temporarily suspend or scale back fee-for-service programs that cannot be offered remotely. The leaders of all-volunteer-run nonprofits may be facing financial hardships due to lost income from day jobs that are on hold indefinitely.

From our experience of quickly mobilizing COVID-19 relief funds at Kern Community Foundation, thanks to the philanthropic generosity of local corporate and individual donors, the grant requests we have received from scores of nonprofits from all corners of Kern have amounted to much more — in the six figures — than the funds could give out.

Why give to nonprofits through our Online Giving Day Platform?

Going back to the good times, despite all the challenges California’s nonprofit sector faces, CalNonprofits says its output represents 15% of our gross state product. Charities generate close to $274 billion each year in annual revenue and bring in more than $40 billion from out-of-state sources. One out of every 14 jobs in California is at a nonprofit. Volunteers contribute the equivalent of $16.6 billion in unpaid labor to the state’s economy. And 4 out of 5 Californians deem nonprofits to operate more ethically, efficiently and frugally than for-profit businesses or government.

From animal rescue and low-cost spay-and-neuter efforts, to affordable child- and elder-care options, to veteran services, to environmental justice, to homelessness and hunger prevention, nonprofits are woven into the fabric of the quality of life we enjoy in California.

But now we’re in some of the worst times our state, nation and world have ever had to face.

If you have been helped by a nonprofit in any capacity or know someone who has, consider making a donation to any of the more than 130 charities fundraising through Give Big Kern, Kern’s official “Online Day of Giving,” at a time when they need funding the most.

Just go to, search for a nonprofit by name or cause and give. The website has been accepting donations since April 5, and will stay open till May 6, one day after Give Big Kern Day, which this year falls festively on Cinco de Mayo.

You can pay with a major credit card; through mobile pay options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Microsoft Pay; and, if making a gift of $100 or more, through your bank account using automated clearing house.

If you don’t have money to give now, use the Volunteering page on the drop-down menu of the website to make a pledge of volunteer hours to one of the participating nonprofits. They are surely going to need a lot of people power to get their operations back up and running when social-distancing restrictions have been lifted.

Louis Medina is the Director of Community Impact for Kern Community Foundation, which hosts the Give Big Kern Online Day of Giving each year on the first Tuesday in May. You can reach him at

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