CHICAGO (CBS) — Sporting events and theater shows have been cancelled over the coronavirus.

So have fundraisers for charities, large and small. Now they’re wondering if they’ll make up those necessary dollars.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports.

“Physics, that’s my number one class.”

Lorena Villa’s was accepted at St. Mary’s College in Indiana. She got there in part through the PEAK Program, a charity that pays high school tuition at Holy Trinity School and mentors struggling students once on the verge of not graduating.

 “Without PEAK, I don’t know if I would be going to college,” Villa said.

More than a quarter of PEAK’s $400,000 operating budget is earned at their annual breakfast, a fundraiser showcasing student success. That’s now cancelled because of coronavirus concerns.

“The bottom line is those kids need us and they need those tuition sponsorships,” said PEAK’s Katherine Rush.

PEAK is a small charity, serving about 40 students and set to grow. Each scholar costs about $9,500 annually, and now that growth seems in jeopardy.

“We will have to turn some kids away,” Rush said.

It’s estimated Chicagoans give as much as $6.7 billion locally to charity. But with coronavirus concerns and financial uncertainties, that number is likely to change.

“We made this decision solely based on the health of the community,” said Ken Cooper, Vice President of Development  for the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

Well in advance of the governor’s call, the Illinois Holocaust Museum canceled its 2,000 person gala this week. The event generates 25% of $10 million dollar budget.

 “We got lucky. The money was in,” said Cooper.

Most major sponsors had already cut their checks, but the museum will lose the $250,000 extra dollars earned that night for outreach and educational programs.

Having lived through similar economic challenges, these charities know donors will most likely have less to share and be more choosy in the months ahead.

 “The museum is important, but there’s food and shelter and medical needs that are going to be more urgent right now,” Cooper said.

 

Vince Gerasole