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How Idaho Nonprofits Have Struggled During A Year Of COVID-19

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Idaho Botanical Garden
The Idaho Botanical Garden had to make changes to Winter Garden Aglow last year because of COVID-19.

Last April, as the impact of COVID-19 was just starting to be felt in the Gem State, the Idaho Nonprofit Center predicted that nonprofit organizations would be hit hard. Almost a year later, we checked in to see how some groups are weathering the coronavirus.

The Center’s Programs and Training Manager Garrett Kalt says nonprofits are telling him one of the biggest challenges they face is “decision fatigue.”

“A lot of folks who are leading mission-driven organizations are often faced with challenges of, 'Will I be laying off employees, how am I going to make this work?' They’re just tired of making decisions.”

Ben Burdick, the Producing Artistic Director with Boise Contemporary Theater, says he had to lay off all of his staff. He says it’s even harder to make those decisions without a roadmap.

“There’s just no way of knowing what the future holds.”

And Burdick says it’s not just the unknown, it’s making decisions he knows nothing about.

“As a Producing Artistic Director I’m comfortable making decisions about theater but I’m making decisions about federal loans, shuttered venue operator grants, and MERV filters," he said.

Idaho Botanical Garden Executive Director Erin Anderson echoes those concerns.

“We’re trying to create plans for events, for staffing, for programs, and our education program, but we don’t know what in the next six months, what we’re actually going to do," said Anderson.

On the plus side, Boise Contemporary Theater partnering with the Garden last year allowed people to spread out safely and was a big help. The Nonprofit Center’s Kalt heard similar collaborations helped other groups stay afloat. And Idahoans’ generosity increased when the Center’s 2020 Idaho Gives campaign raised almost $4 million, double the amount from 2019. But Kalt says many groups are worried “COVID-giving fatigue” could possibly set in.

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