MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — As non-profits see their revenue and donations dry up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Way of Dane County says they are taking their community campaign virtual, in hopes of attracting potential donors.

With higher demand now than ever before, the organization that supports nearly 100 Madison area non-profits says their 2-1-1 resource line is experiencing a 400% increase in call volume. 

"Our number one request for rent assistance for utilities assistance, and also for flexible funds," Renee Moe, President and CEO of United Way of Dane County, said.

The organization hopes to bring in 17.8 million this year and leaders believe a change in the tax law may encourage more single families to give.

"That people can give up to $600 a family, a couple of can give $600 or individual can give $300 and they will be able to take that as a deduction on their taxes they don't have to itemize to use it, it just comes at a right off the top of your income, so i’m grateful that has been put back into place, we have not had that for the last couple of years,”  CFO Rick Spiel said.

According to a new study from John Hopkins University, 1.6 million non-profit jobs have been lost since the spring. 

Paul Kundert, United Way of Dane County Chair and UW Credit Union President, hopes by taking a page from the business sector, the annual community campaign will still thrive.

"We have to use all the tools that are available to us, and we have to innovate to really get to where we want to be,” Kundert said. “And I'm really pleased. I think we really have a plan that can succeed, and we'll actually have to adapt it, learn from it, and even innovate as we go along.”

For Kundert, it means borrowing tricks from  the business sector and on-boarding volunteers and engaging with donors— all online.   

Meanwhile, Moe just hopes the outcome is optimistic because she knows how much the non-profit truly matters, be it through engagement or sharing resources with fellow Wisconsin United Ways.  

"The need is more pronounced than ever. Every single person in the community understands that there's a pandemic going on and there are negative effects that result from that, whether they have health and economic. They're also seeing the disproportionate impact based on race and income. And so, because the issues are so in front of us, there's also a lot of compassion, and there's a lot of hope in that to be able to help," Moe said. "We know that when people are able to contribute when they're able to volunteer when they're able to give generously.”

“That sense of optimism and hope helps us feel more connected and helps us feel a sense of peace that we have some control that we could use to help,” she continued. “So that makes my heart feel extremely hopeful and optimistic and I knew it was gonna come.”

You can learn how to help United Way of Dane County here.