3 Nonprofit Businesses Doing it Right During the Time of COVID-19

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Right now there are nonprofit businesses making the most of this defining moment in world history. Here we’ve chosen to zoom in on three organizations, two in Cleveland and one in Seattle, who’ve reshaped their business models to remain relevant during the time of COVID-19. These methods are steeped in promise and potential, and hopefully, you can garner some ideas from them. Right now there’s really nothing to lose.

Photo courtesy of Motogo

Motogo (motogocleveland.com)

Kids in Cleveland are now learning the art of motorcycle maintenance from the convenience of their homes. Thanks to the nonprofit organization Motogo, which changed its original concept of an “in person” shop class to an at-home approach, junior high and high school students are able to remotely engage with teachers while using V8 engine model kits and tools that were sent to them. 

Many school metal/auto shop programs are dissolving around the country and Motogo is working to make sure a new generation can learn to appreciate the joys of working with one’s hands. Coming out of Cleveland’s Skidmark Garage, the whole idea was to build teens’ world problem solving and critical thinking skills while passing along vital mechanic skills. 

Almost as soon as coronavirus shut everything down in Ohio, the nonprofit raised funds  and received engines from donors, and was also awarded a COVID-19 relief programming grant from Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America Foundation. Armed with funding and supplies, they sent out home kits to students. 

So far, Motogo has seen progress in its students, who seem to revel in having a structured thing to do during such uncertain times. This is a business model that could easily extend beyond Cleveland. 

CAN Journal (CANjournal.org)

Photo courtesy of CAN Journal

Art does not go away during a pandemic, but places for it to be enjoyed and purchased  do certainly become more limited. The Collective Art Network (CAN), a nonprofit made up of nearly 100 Northeast Ohio artists, galleries, and schools, is working to maintain the utmost flexibility during this time. That includes making changes to its large arts event CAN Triennial, which it just announced has been postponed to summer 2022.

“The 2022 iteration of the CAN exhibition will coincide once again with FRONT Triennial, engaging audiences with a broad examination of art making in Northeast Ohio,”

The organization explained on its website.

However, through its media outlets the CAN Journal and canjournal.org, the organization is continuing to support local artists. Its new and informative video blog series called “Art from a Distance” is highlighting how many artists and museums are working through quarantine and how you can help them. 


Look for the summer 2020 issue of CAN Journal, hitting stands in late May, to include many more stories of survival from its members during the coronavirus pandemic, really hammering home the point that no one is in this alone and that CAN is not going anywhere and that communication is key. 

UPAYA Social Ventures (upayasv.org)

Washington state was one of the hardest hit when the coronavirus pandemic began. But rather than cancel its annual fundraiser gala on March 6, the Seattle nonprofit Upaya Social Ventures, which works to eradicate poverty by creating meaningful jobs throughout the globe, chose to think outside of the box. 

Photo credit: upayasv.org

Once deciding to cancel the in-person event the week of, the nonprofit worked quickly to set up a fancy-as-possible virtual gala that included guest speakers, table sponsors, speeches from their Board Chair and Executive Director, individual donors, and an online live auction.

While the group readily admits they got lucky with timing and how novel their efforts were when the event occurred, the virtual gala idea is still worthy of consideration for any nonprofit looking to excite donors during these trying times.  Find more information on how exactly Upaya succeeded in netting nearly $100,000 over their fundraising goal right here.

Do you have a story about how a local nonprofit had adapted their programming to continue to spread benefit to our community? Submit your story today!

Sangfroid Strategy helps organizations learn from where they’ve been, figure out where they want to go, and map out what they need to do to get there. We are experts when it comes to helping organizations build resiliency and move through difficult times and navigate complex situations. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

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