North Texas funders come together to provide essential support to nonprofits leading COVID-19 recovery

Online volunteers from around the world have helped Dallas area nonprofits save more than $1.4 million (and counting)

Dallas, TX — As the U.S. has emerged from the pandemic lockdown and moved toward navigating around the virus, there has been a lot of discussion about lasting impacts — especially in relation to how local funders and nonprofits continue to work together to support our communities most in need. In January 2021, The Dallas Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, and Lyda Hill Philanthropies came together to partner with Catchafire to bring time-sensitive, virtual support to more than 300 nonprofit organizations in the North Texas region. The funders teamed up with Catchafire to give nonprofits access to the professional help they need to build organizational capacity.

“Bridging the North Texas nonprofit community to the resources of Catchafire during the pandemic provided us with an opportunity to not only support, but strengthen these organizations which, over the course of 2020, lost both in-person volunteers and many long-standing fundraising opportunities,” said Matthew Randazzo, President & CEO of The Dallas Foundation. “Catchafire’s virtual approach helps close that gap, allowing just in time access to services that match an organization’s unique needs and, ultimately, better equip them to help individuals and families in our community reach their full potential.”

Formally known as One Texas, the larger statewide initiative enables nonprofits to get access to a network of pro bono volunteers from across the country through Catchafire’s online platform, which is customized for Texas nonprofits in order to help build more sustainable organizations over a period of time, while quickly addressing time-sensitive needs. Since early 2020, more than 12 grantmakers have joined St.David’s Foundation and The Meadows Foundation in building this statewide initiative.

When the pandemic hit, these virtual volunteers were a lifeline to nonprofits struggling to adapt to distance work. Catchafire, an organization that partners with nonprofits to match them with professionally-skilled volunteers, helped hundreds of Texas nonprofits access $1.4 million in critical services (via 6,700 volunteer hours), as nonprofits in the area struggled to adapt to the pandemic.

From a youth organization that had to reimagine their sleepaway camp for middle schools girls interested in STEM to a nonprofit helping women veteran owned businesses scale to a literacy institution helping adults earn their Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency (TxCHSE), virtual volunteers worked hard to provide Dallas nonprofits with professional expertise they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access.

AES Literacy Institute is a North Texas nonprofit that helps individuals 17 and older that did not finish high school by offering a three to six months alternative program that allows them to earn their Texas certificate of high school equivalency. AES Literacy Institute was given Catchafire access via the North Texas program, and completed their first project in March. They have since engaged in 21 projects and calls, gaining significant support for their organization in the areas of graphic design, website, and finance, among others. And sometimes, the volunteer engagement turns into much more than just a completed project.

“(Volunteer) Josh has helped us on so many levels. It was simply supposed to be an organizational one-pager but he ended up helping us with quick pitches, and elevator pitches, and turned into a friendship. He’s not just a volunteer, he has more so become a mentor and we’re able to contact him on a regular basis to connect and bounce ideas off one another. And he’s constantly feeding into us and feeding into our organization, providing us with outlets, Catchafire volunteers offer assistance on a wide variety of projects, including fundraising, data resources and information,” noted founders ShaKimberly and Germaine Cooper.

To say AES Literacy Institute is happy with what they’ve been able to accomplish on Catchafire is an understatement. “We are very appreciative, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to just have these unlimited resources, and everything is so organized and well put together on the Catchafire portal. I honestly feel like it has catapulted us to the next level. As a small nonprofit, as a fresh nonprofit, this…has really helped us establish a strong foundation and let the world know who we are and we are definitely appreciative.” ShaKimberly Cooper plans to continue to use Catchafire as long as they have access.

“We’re thrilled to be able to enhance the organizational capacity of North Texas nonprofits through this effort. Participating organizations are making great use of the Catchafire platform and its offerings to help strengthen their work and advance their missions, and that translates into positive strides toward the thriving community for all that we strive for,” said Sarah Cotton Nelson, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas.

If your nonprofit is interested in participating in an opportunity with Catchafire, email to learn more.

The Dallas Foundation, established as the first community foundation in Texas in 1929, brings together people, ideas, and investments in Greater Dallas so individuals and families can reach their full potential. In 2020, The Dallas Foundation, in partnership with the more than 400 fundholders, invested over $65 million into the community. For more information, visit, Facebook or Instagram.

With the goal of building thriving communities for all, Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) works locally and across the state with many individuals, families, companies, foundations, and nonprofits through a variety of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking initiatives. CFT professionally manages more than 1,000 charitable funds and has awarded more than $2 billion in grants since its founding in 1953. CFT is committed to serving and understanding donor needs, expertly handling complex gifts, wisely managing charitable funds, and leveraging its community knowledge to increase charitable impact, in addition to powering several key initiatives including the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Fund at CFT, CFT for Business, Educate Texas at CFT, Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy at CFT, GiveWisely, and CFT’s North Texas Giving Day. CFT’s North Texas Giving Day, raised over $58 million on a single day last year to help over 3,200 North Texas nonprofits. Learn more at

Lyda Hill Philanthropies encompasses the charitable giving for founder Lyda Hill and includes her foundation and personal philanthropy. The organization is committed to funding transformational advances in science and nature, empowering nonprofit organizations and improving the Texas and Colorado communities. Because Miss Hill has a fervent belief that “science is the answer” to many of life’s most challenging issues, she has chosen to donate the entirety of her estate to philanthropy and scientific research.

In early 2020, founding member St.David’s Foundation, along with The Meadow’s Foundation and Catchafire came together to roll out the One Texas collaborative, a statewide initiative that gives nonprofits access to on-demand capacity-building support through Catchafire’s national network of virtual volunteers. The program, which seeks to remove the barrier nonprofits face when trying to access talent, has grown to provide more than 1,100 nonprofits across the broader state getting access to the One Texas platform and services.


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