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News: 05/01/2020

Nonprofits lose essential revenue during shutdown

Nonprofits lose essential revenue during shutdown

By Alec Peters

Local nonprofit organizations that do so much for the area are facing serious revenue shortfalls due to cancellation of important fundraisers and a general slowdown in donations, all due to the impacts of COVID-19.

This article does not include every worthy organization facing difficulties (and there are many) but the following are illustrative.

Every year the Kenwood Education Foundation’s (KEF) Lights, Camera Auction event in May, a dinner, silent auction and live auction, brings in about $80,000.

That money is used at Kenwood Elementary School to help pay for classroom aides and programs such as art, music, computer lab, physical education, STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics), and more.

This comes on the heels of having to cancel another KEF fundraiser last summer.

“The negative impact of cancelling our largest annual fundraising event is a concern both for the upcoming school year and for the immediate years to come,” said Bob Bales, Superintendent/Principal of Kenwood School. “I am optimistic, however, that our community will come together as always to support programs for our kids.

Instead of Lights, Camera, Auction, KEF has sent a message to members of the community for a “direct ask” for funds. If you can help, go to

“Right now, every little bit helps,” said KEF President Cheryl Ghisla.

Down Sonoma Highway in the Springs area is Teen Services Sonoma. The organization had to cancel their annual Cowboy Cab fundraiser, which brings in approximately $130,000, roughly 25 percent of the nonprofit’s operating budget (which is about $500,000).

Each year, more than 300 Sonoma Valley teens, the majority of whom are Latino and low-income, participate in work readiness programs that help equip them with the skills they need to be ready to enter the workforce.

Cowboy Cab is not only an opportunity to raise needed program funds, said Teen Services Sonoma Executive Director Becky Jo Peterson.

“It also is a chance for us to honor our supporters, give our teens work experience since they set up and serve for the event, and showcase some of our success stories to our support base.”

In the absence of the big fundraiser, there is an appeal to the general public for funds. Donors have stepped up and said they will match money raised up to $50,000. Go to to find out how to donate.

“We are doing all we can to pivot and use our resources to serve our community and to stay connected to our teens so they know we are here for them and care about them,” said Peterson.

Fawn Rescue, whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release black-tailed fawns back into the wild, had planned to have its annual FAWNdraiser at the end of March at the Oakmont Golf Club. But the nonprofit had to call it off, and is hoping to reschedule later this summer, though it’s unclear what county health officials will eventually allow in terms of gatherings.

“Our event was our primary fundraiser of the year, and in years past we’ve generated substantial funding from it,” said Fawn Rescue board member Kaersten Cooper. “So we are definitely feeling an impact at this point in the year – the beginning of fawn season – as compared to previous years.”

Monies from the fundraiser would normally have gone to items like formula, medical supplies, material for pens, and maintenance and gas for the group’s Fawn-mobile. If you’d like to help, go to

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), based at the Los Guilicos campus off of Pythian Road, organizes its staff and volunteers to be a voice for abused and neglected children who have to go before the juvenile court system for protection and rehabilitation services.

Their big fundraiser, scheduled for late May, CASA Goes Caribbean, had to be cancelled.

CASA Sonoma County Executive Director Millie Gilson said the annual fundraiser raises about $120,000-$140,000 of the organization’s $600,000 annual budget.

“So it’s a big hit,” said Gilson. But, she said CASA’s work goes on every day as best as possible.

“The court, as does CASA, know these children’s needs are important. We want the children to feel our continuity and be aware that CASA is there for them. Child abuse does not stop because of a virus.”

To donate to CASA, go to

Down at the other end of Sonoma Valley in Sonoma, Pets Lifeline, an animal shelter, had to cancel their May 1 Tailwags & Handbags event set for Buena Vista Winery.

Nancy King, executive director of Pets Lifeline, said that the short-term impact is critical since the group’s fundraisers make up 40 percent of their revenue.

“As a private nonprofit that does all of its own fundraising, that is significant,” said King. “We can’t even fathom the long term effect yet, and no one knows if anyone will be able to do an event fundraiser when the shelter in place order is lifted.”

Pets Lifeline is conducting a Tailwags & Handbags online auction where people can bid on designer and vintage handbags. The online event takes place May 6-10. Go to to find out more and to register.

The list of nonprofit organizations in Sonoma Valley, not to mention the rest of the county, that are facing an unknown financial future is long, if it be the La Luz Center in Sonoma, which has a crisis fund to help their community (; the Rotary Club of Glen Ellen-Kenwood which had to cancel its only fundraiser of the year (; the Valley of the Moon Boys & Girls Club (; or the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance which had to cancel a big fundraiser last October due to PG&E power outages, and another event due to COVID-19 (

As you peruse different websites for opportunities to help, you’ll find a consistent refrain from nonprofits:

“We need your help now more than ever.”

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