A recent study by the Nonprofit Finance Fund found that COVID-19 is expected to leave deep and lasting impacts on nonprofit organizations around the nation.
Nonprofit respondents indicated they were expecting significant changes in demand for services, reduced staff capacity, and conditions that threaten their long-term financial stability.
According to a similar study conducted by the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside in early April, many organizations are in a “triply challenging position, navigating increased demand for the services they provide and the addition of new services, while at the same time facing the prospect of declines in revenues from charity events and managing many staff now working from home.”
The report also noted that many nonprofits have severely cut back staffing and the services they provide. One survey respondent anticipated “a reduction in funding by as much at 75% before June 2020, as funding from schools and government will be cut.”
But, despite the serious financial challenges facing local nonprofit leaders, their resolve to continue responding to clients’ needs during this time has not wavered. After all, it is in the DNA of nonprofits to step up when others step back. The need to expand services is not foreign to nonprofits during times when demands increase and revenues decrease.
In March, Santa Ana-based Think Together recognized that parents of students in their learning center had lost their jobs, so they pivoted from traditional afterschool programs to help families cover groceries and basic essentials.
“We’re also partnering with school districts and educational leaders to narrow the digital divide and bring innovative school programs across the state,” said Randy Barth, Think Together’s founder and CEO.
Throughout Southern California, nonprofits are adapting their services to balance keeping employees, volunteers and clients safe while continuing to meet increased demand.
While most residents are sheltering at home, nonprofits are on the frontlines ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities’ most at-risk – while donning masks and gloves and struggling to maintain social distancing.
Food banks are working double-time to distribute food to vulnerable individuals, hospitals are shifting practices and engaging the community to provide protective gear and quality health care, and housing organizations are moving people off the streets.
“If there are any lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis, it is that home equals safety,” said Anne Miskey, CEO for Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena. “During this time, we are working to ensure those who are experiencing homelessness have what they need to remain safe, including meals, shelter and medical care.”
But nonprofits are inherently integrated with the community, and their work is often dependent on the generosity and cooperation of many partners. Companies, churches, and government entities are working together to respond to the unprecedented needs brought by COVID-19.
Corporate foundations are loosening restrictions and pledging increased donations to assist with relief efforts, individuals are stepping into new virtual volunteer roles, and churches are engaging their members to give back during this time.
Some organizations have been able to capture limited relief from the Paycheck Protection Plan, and federal tax stimulus payments have been helpful to individuals who have lost hours or jobs during this time.
But the needs continue to be great and the question remains how deeply COVID-19 will impact nonprofits and their services over the coming months and years.
“Nonprofits are the unsung heroes in our communities, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure families have stable homes, children are educated and safe, and seniors receive food and health care,” said Vici Nagel, CEO for the Academy for Grassroots Organizations. “I hope others will pray for these heroes every day, continue your usual giving as best you can, and consider giving even more if possible. When this crisis leaves us, we are going to need these unsung heroes to help our communities get back on their feet.”
Gregory Bradbard is an advocate for breaking the cycle of poverty as president of the SoCal-based Hope Through Housing Foundation, HTHF.org.
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