“How often do you have to manage an organization when someone’s life could be at risk?” she asks as she recalls the earliest days of the pandemic.
With the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, this particular burden on nonprofit leaders has been lifted, at least enough to provide a little breathing room. But for social service agencies like Bootstraps – which has grown exponentially since its start in 1992 as a food pantry in the basement of Beverly’s First Baptist Church – the pandemic has been all at once taxing, eye-opening and, in some ways, gratifying.
“The resiliency of humans is just amazing, and we see it every day,” said Gabriel. “But during this time, we saw it like no other time before.”
If anyone knows about planning for uncertain times, it’s the nonprofit sector. But for many local organizations, the sweeping impacts of COVID-19 have also created new opportunities – Gabriel sites many operational efficiencies developed during COVID that will live on – and further compelled agencies to seek out new pathways to security and sustainability.
“I think we’re all of the mindset that we have to be amazing stewards of the resources the community gives us,” said Gabriel, who, along with the support of staff and board, made the decision this year to open a Nonprofit Fund with ECCF. “It absolutely makes sense to all of us that we have this fund in the event of something unplanned.”
Since 2010, Beverly Bootstraps has had a board-designated reserve fund, but, Gabriel said, “our money was not really working as hard as it could for us.”
Investing with ECCF was an option that Beverly Bootstraps had been thinking about for several years. “I was fully aware of all the things that ECCF was doing to strengthen the nonprofit sector,” said Gabriel, who had been a longtime participant in ECCF’s Institute for Trustees.
And meeting this year with ECCF staff – who aim to create a personalized experience for each unique fundholder – helped to build that sense of trust and understanding.
“We had great conversations with ECCF, and the foundation’s investment strategy fit a lot of what we were looking for,” said Gabriel. “I think we all agreed pretty quickly that this was the right place to invest.”
[Learn more about the ECCF difference at eccf.org/donors-and-giving/eccf-difference/.]
“Placing our reserve fund with ECCF was the right choice for us,” said Beverly Bootstraps Board Member Ed Cahill. “I felt very comfortable with the experience and expertise of the members of the Investment Committee and the staff at ECCF. I know that our reserve fund is in good hands.”
Gabriel said one benefit to partnering with ECCF is that the new Beverly Bootstraps Reserve Fund will help to support an organization that does good work right in Bootstraps’ own back yard. (At ECCF, fund fees are reinvested into the local community.)
“I am the biggest fan of win-win-wins,” said Gabriel. “When you can leverage good all around, why wouldn’t you? It just made so much sense. We totally believe in ECCF as an institution and it’s a great steward not only of money, but the community too.”
Beverly Bootstraps’ services – which include food assistance, youth aid, adult education and a wide variety of other client supports – have become increasingly critical to area individuals and families as needs grow and the organization’s service area expands to include the communities of Essex, Hamilton and Wenham.
“Our ECCF fund provides security – long-term stability and security,” said Gabriel. “We hope we never have to tap into it, but we know it’s there if we need to.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people view nonprofits; Gabriel said there is a new awareness of just how critical Beverly Bootstraps’ services are to the community. The health crisis has also reinforced the idea that we can achieve so much more together than we ever could have done alone.
“It takes all of us,” said Gabriel. “The more we all collaborate and come together, the more we’re able to address the needs of the community.”
A new Nonprofit Fund with ECCF can play an important role in all of that. “It’s just a clear indicator that the partnership is strong and great,” Gabriel said.