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Local nonprofits struggling for funds needed to survive

The pandemic shed a light on the invaluable resources our local nonprofits provide to the community. But today, many are struggling to climb their way back to normal, pre-pandemic operations.
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:47 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:58 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Jaime Spaid is always on her toes.

Since mid-July, she’s been hard at work, compiling back-to-school clothing essentials for 15-25 children per week at S.S. Boutique on Mankato’s east side.

“We will set them up with 14 days, which for the younger kids, usually 6-8 pairs of pants, 14 shirts, a coat, boots, shoes, socks, underwear, whatever they need,” Spaid, co-director of S.S. Boutique, said. “If you imagine going into your closet, that’s what we’re setting these kids up with.”

The pandemic forced more local families to rely on non-profits like S.S. Boutique for clothing, food, housing assistance and other essentials. While still navigating pandemic-altered operations, nonprofits are hustling to provide the same quality and quantity of resources -- after a year that was the ultimate stress test for organization finances.

“It’s tricky and tough and pretty well a constant battle to try and keep above water,” Spaid said.

S.S. Boutique is not alone. In a March survey conducted by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, 30 percent of nonprofit organizations in the state said they had less than six months before they will exhibit financial distress.

“Initially with the beginning of the pandemic, there was sort of broad-spread panic of what are we facing and what is this going to mean,” Kari Aanestad, associate director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, said.

Aanestad says many nonprofits wouldn’t have survived without emergency funding avenues like the Paycheck Protection Program. The council will continue to advocate for more, including from the American Rescue Plan. And they encourage Minnesotans to support their local groups if they can.

“Of course, always the call to the community to support nonprofit organizations through time, talents and treasures,” Aanestad said. “So encouragement of charitable giving. That’s often kind of an unrestricted source of support that nonprofits need.”

But federal and state relief aid is slowing down. And Spaid says another stressor southern Minnesota nonprofits face is competing with each other for a shrinking pool of local grants and funds.

“It’s coopera-tition,” Spaid said. “That’s the little term they use. We all work together. We all want each other to thrive. But we’re also all going for that same money to help us thrive and survive.”

For now, Spaid is thankful for the support and donors keeping S.S. Boutique afloat. She’s making use of every resource she has -- to remain a resource for the greater Mankato community.

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