WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — There are a giving few who dedicate their time to improving the lives of others.
These are the people behind nonprofit organizations, so what happens when a pandemic hits and they too have to change the way they operate?
One organization tells us how they had to learn just like everyone else to adapt to the changes of what many still refer to as unprecedented times.
It’s been one year since Wichita County had its first case of the coronavirus.
Since then, many have had to make changes to slow the spread of the virus but with these changes, many suffered financially and non-profits like the Backdoor Theatre were left to develop a game plan to keep its mission alive.
“We had a production running it was our first show of 2020 and we had a cast of about 25 people and we knew that it had hit America by then and broadway was beginning to shut down and close its doors and we knew that we really needed to take steps to do our part,” Backdoor Theatre Artistic Director Carter Wallace said.
The theater, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, canceled its last performance of Oliver and other events they had lined up.
“A big portion of Backdoor Theatre’s budget comes from ticket sales to the performances so with that out of the way and not being a form of income or revenue we kind of scrambled to figure out what to do next,” Backdoor Theatre Business Director Jessica Wood said.
Wood said since the hit of COVID-19, patrons have donated but they like many other nonprofits they had to get creative in how they could make money.
“In early July last year we had a telethon which raised some funds which were amazing and it really helped us feel more secure of the rest of the year and then a week later we had a flood,” Wood said.
And of course, that set them back even further.
Wallace said while they were very fortunate to have a little bit of cash in the bank, they still needed operational funds.
“Though we have a small staff we still needed funds to pay the staff and so we looked into what other resources were available,” Wallace said.
Wallace said that is when they looked into Small Business Administration loans as well as grant opportunities.
But with so many nonprofits facing the same predicament with very little knowledge of how to adjust, places like The Center for Nonprofit Management and Leadership was very useful.
“Many of our nonprofits had to cancel fundraising events so fundraising was a very critical concern and we brought in a speaker who did a webinar on how to fundraise during a crisis,” The Center for Nonprofit Management and Leadership Director Sonia White said.
“We had anticipated being able to safely reopen in the fall of last year looking at shows and opportunities with our theater school and doing shows on the main stage and the dinner stage safely,” Wood said.
Wood said when that didn’t go as planned, they looked at other options.
“One thing that we wind up doing with our theater school was going virtual and looking at virtual options and we also held a virtual Christmas concert for the first time ever so it’s really forced our hands to think outside the box,” Wood said.
One year later and Backdoor Theatre as well as hundreds of area nonprofits are still feeling the effect of the virus but lessons can be learned from this tumultuous ordeal.
“I think it’s really made them extremely aware of how proactive they need to be when it comes to their financials and having more cash on hand and having reserves available,” White said.
Despite the many setbacks, they’ve faced this past year Wallace and Wood said the hope is to continue to be an outlet of creativity.
“It’s time for us to really look forward towards the future and we are excited to eventually reopen,” Wallace said.
One year later and many nonprofits are still rearranging business modules to continue to serve the community of people needing help the most.
They hope the community can help them get back on their feet, find out how you can donate to Backdoor Theatre here.
Also, see our Helping the Helpers series where each week we feature a nonprofit in need of your help.