Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

The Texas Cavaliers Foundation isn’t waiting until November’s Fiesta to fulfill its charitable mission, instead distributing funding to 69 nonprofits in San Antonio immediately.

The Cavaliers are one of several San Antonio charitable organizations, including the San Antonio Area Foundation, redirecting their focus to COVID-19 response amid a disruption in events that produce crucial revenue for nonprofits around town. The Valero Texas Open was canceled along with many other sporting events, while the Big Give was postponed until the fall. Smaller charity galas – such as Down Syndrome Association of South Texas’ Collective Palette event – also have been postponed or canceled.

The Cavaliers said more than $1.5 million in grants will be sent out this week to charities providing meals, shelter, education, healing, and clothing for San Antonio children. The grant-making foundation distributes funds to area nonprofits each year around the time of Fiesta, but due to the spread of COVID-19 – and the postponement of Fiesta – decided to make resources available to beneficiaries immediately. Many of those organizations had to cancel fundraising events with no other income-generating plans, according to a news release from the Cavaliers.

“Our Board of Trustees absolutely adopted this plan with unanimous consent,” said Cavaliers Foundation president Vincent Dawson in a statement Tuesday.

The Valero Texas Open raised nearly $40 million in the past four years for various South Texas nonprofits, including the Ecumenical Center, the San Antonio Clubhouse, and Any Baby Can San Antonio.

The PGA Tour stop and its associated fundraising campaign raised more than $6 million in 2019. That funding went to organizations such as the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, which provides rehabilitation services and employment opportunities for people who are blind and visually impaired.

Though the tournament itself was canceled, Valero’s Champions Fore Charity fundraising program for nonprofits will continue, said Hugo Hernández, CEO of Any Baby Can. Each nonprofit submits payments to Valero’s fundraising arm and the company then gives an additional 7 percent back to the nonprofits, up to $10,000 in additional funding. Nonprofits are still collecting donations, and have until April 17 to inform Valero of their committed donation amounts.

Any Baby Can typically gets about $5,000 back from Valero each year, Hernández said.

“It all depends on how much we’re able to raise and how much we’re able to get back,” he said. “And fundraising is impacted now because a lot of the donations typically coming to nonprofits are now going to the [San Antonio] Food Bank, other places that are handling the emergency. We understand it, but it still impacts all of us.”

Hernández said he was grateful to Valero Texas Open and Texas Cavaliers for still committing to donating to various nonprofits. Any Baby Can usually receives somewhere between $5,000 to $8,000 a year from the Cavaliers, he said.

Valero Texas Open will still work with past tournament champions to highlight different nonprofits still raising money through Champions Fore Charity, said Stephanie Sage, director of marketing and community relations.

“We want to try and draw attention to these organizations and help tell their stories, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that need help,” she said.

Champions Fore Charity has raised $6 million since last October, and hopes to reach its goal of $7 million before the fundraising campaign ends in April.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Area Foundation is working on a new philanthropic focus in light of COVID-19, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Helterbrand. The foundation makes grants each year to charitable organizations and awarded more than $10 million in grants to nonprofits in 2019. The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, which also gives out grants each year and gave $2.38 million in 2019, noted that the new coronavirus is changing business models.

“Our conversations have been and continue to be fluid, as we assess how we can be flexible in providing assistance to nonprofits to mitigate the impact to the communities they serve,” a news release from the Kronkosky foundation stated Monday.

The Big Give, which started in 2014, usually gathers hundreds of nonprofits and their calls for donations on one website for one day of citywide charitable giving. But this year, the large fundraising drive originally scheduled for March 26 will take place in September, and the Big Give will instead become an emergency relief fundraising hub, although details have yet to be finalized.

Nearly 500 nonprofits signed up to participate in the Big Give. All of those nonprofits will still be on the website and able to fundraise on the new emergency relief website.

“We’re looking to pivot the Big Give website toward a more community-based relief site for nonprofits, those Big Give nonprofits,” Nonprofit Council CEO Scott McAninch said. “We’re still talking about how it would look if someone else wants to join in, but that’s all to follow.”

In 2019, 545 nonprofits raised an overall $4.7 million through the Big Give. The Nonprofit Council coordinates the Big Give each year and has helped nonprofits raise more than $25 million since 2014.

“It’s a hugely important day for a lot of nonprofits who rely on it,” McAninch said. “We just want to assure them we’re not canceling it; we’re moving it.”

The City of San Antonio and the Nonprofit Council will have more information about the revamped Big Give website later this week. The new website is scheduled to launch Thursday, though McAninch stressed that the timeline is fluid.

“We will keep everyone informed as we unroll and unveil things and make decisions,” he said. “This is unprecedented, but our primary focus is to get it done.”

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.