Big Brothers Big Sisters KC works to stay afloat

Posted at 11:00 AM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 20:39:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused big concerns for Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City.

“Here’s the worst part,” Micheal Lawrence, CEO of BBBSKC, said in an interview with 41 Action News anchor Kevin Holmes. “We were off to our best quarter in our agency’s history. We’ve recruited more volunteers in the first quarter.”

Lawrence said the pandemic has caused the nonprofit to slow down operations. The organization thrives on personal, up close interaction, pairing adult mentors (Bigs) with young people (Littles) to help show them the way and empower them.

“When you break it down to the simplest form, we create these powerful friendships that wouldn’t naturally exist,” Lawrence said.

Since COVID-19, those powerful friendships have now gone virtual. The friendships are bound by firewalls, and one-on-one time is replaced with screen time. Relationships that took weeks, if not months, to feel normal are now abnormal. With summer now here, the heat is on to raise money.

“Our plan as we do our projections will depend a lot on our summer events. We typically raise $1.8 million of our $4.5 million operating budget in the summer,” Lawrence said.

According to Lawrence, BBBSKC has bought some time, working closely with its bank. BBBSKC was one of the first nonprofits to receive Paycheck Protection Program funds. The organization has even doubled its line of credit.

If the fundraising campaign takes a huge hit, Lawrence is fearful about how it could impact the staff.

“I don’t know if we can get through an entire fundraising season without making some cuts,” he said.

A total of 55 employees work for the organization. Those employees have helped facilitate more than 1,100 matches and more than 3,500 hours a week in one-on-one mentor time.

As they offer up big brothers and big sisters, BBBSKC and other companies in the Kansas City area could use a big blessing.

“It’s hard to go out more than 30 days at a time. I’ve never been in a position where you build up a contingency plan and before you get to execute that plan, everything has changed," Lawrence said. "So it is hard to forecast more than 30 days at a time. But as we look at six months, we’ve got a good solid plan to get through this year. What’s it look like next year? Not sure."

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