One organization shared how it has struggled and adapted in the wake of the coronavirus


Every industry seems to be financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, and for nonprofits, things are especially hard.

Marian McCord, Executive Director of CHADS Coalition for Mental Health, is taking the financial impact in stride.

“When our revenue stream dried up when schools closed and our chance to invoice our funders went away, it got overwhelming,” she said. “But we’re getting through it.”

About half of the funding for the St. Louis-based nonprofit comes from local schools, where CHADS provides resources for suicide prevention and youth mental health services. Now, all of those schools are closed, at least until the fall semester.

“It’s been challenging to not have that revenue stream, as it’s been challenging to all nonprofits,” McCord said.

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Like most nonprofits, CHADS is staying nimble, relying on technology to create new ways to raise money.

Last year at this time, the organization was ramping up for its Spring Trivia Night fundraiser. This year, the staff is figuring out how to host a virtual social networking event.

“We knew a couple weeks ago that there was no way the trivia night was going to happen,” McCord said. “We had to kind of undo what we had already done and start thinking about what we could possibly do to replace that event. It was an important part of our revenue stream that we counted on for a lot of different needs. It’s critical for nonprofits to have something to replace those things because they’re all part of our budget.”

Even more critical for CHADS is its annual gala in September, the organization’s largest fundraising event. Not knowing what things will look like this fall, the nonprofit is now planning two events: one in person and one virtual. With remote staff limited by reduced hours and furloughs, it’s been tricky.

“It’s been challenging for nonprofits in terms of our clinicians, who have their own challenges at home,” McCord said. “Maybe they’re a mom and now their kids are at home and now they’re trying to homeschool. Maybe they’re worrying about how they’re going to pay rent. There are so many stressors out there for everybody — the clients, agencies, our clinicians.”

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She said there’s one giant silver lining to the organization’s move to digital outreach. While connecting remotely has been difficult for some of CHADS’ clients who don’t have access to computers or the internet, TeleHealth has allowed CHADS to expand its reach to more rural areas.

“We’ve wanted to support rural communities in a more significant way, and we can’t physically do that by putting our clinicians there,” McCord said. “But the rural communities are desperately lacking resources, and this is going to be a huge boost to providing those resources now and in the future.”

She said she’s thankful for the support the organization has already felt from the St. Louis community.

“We remain positive,” she said. “We have to be positive. We’re so grateful our organization is alive and well. And that’s thanks to the community’s support. We’re going to get through this together.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or having thoughts of suicide, free help is available.

Mental health resources:

CHADS Coalition for Mental Health

CHADS Family Support Line: 314-952-8274 

The Youth Connection Hotline: 314-819-8802

Suicide Hotline Number: 1-800-273-8255

Local Crises Hotline: 800-811-4760

Children’s Service Coalition

St. Louis County Children’s Service

St Charles Community Resource Board

St Louis City Mental Health Board

Franklin County Community Resource Board