How are other nonprofits navigating these uncharted waters?

Printer-friendly version

Stay-at-home orders, self-quarantining by those exposed or at high risk, six-foot physical distancing, and other public and private health measures can create the misimpression that we’re all disconnected and isolated. But whether you’re a hero working on the frontlines for a nonprofit providing esssential health care, shelter services, child care, or other human services, or you’re wearing a different cape as a multi-tasking parent/teacher/nonprofit employee working remotely from home, you know you’re not alone. Still, you may be curious: what are other nonprofits experiencing?

Some national poll results provide insights. Last week, La Piana Consulting (LPC) released results from its most recent survey and Unemployment Services Trust (UST) issued its COVID-19 Nonprofit Workforce Trends Report. Among the findings:

  • Approximately a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said they were essential services and operating as they had pre-COVID (UST), and over three-quarters (83 percent) of respondents indicated they had moved their operations to a work-from-home arrangement. (LPC)1
  • 90 percent of organizations reported revenue losses. (LPC)
  • Almost 17 percent of respondents have eliminated or scaled back positions, and 13 percent reported suspending all or most of their operations. (UST)
  • Nearly a quarter of respondents are considering partnerships, such as merger with another nonprofit, as a strategy for responding to the pandemic. (LPC)

Several state associations of nonprofits have conducted polls as well, with results of many closely tracking those from the national polls:

  • The New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits reported that 92 percent of responding nonprofits have experienced a loss in revenue, 44 percent of respondents have increased their operations to meet the surge in demand, and 22 percent of organizations reported temporarily suspending all operations.
  • Florida Nonprofit Alliance released a detailed report showing that almost 80 percent of respondents indicated they had experienced a negative financial impact (including having to cancel programs and fundraising events), and 39 percent reported increased demand for services/support from their clients and communities.
  • Kentucky Nonprofit Network’s second survey revealed that 92 percent of respondents reported experiencing disruptions in their programs and services, 51 percent have been forced to reduce programs/services – which has negatively impacted 489,161 Kentuckians (as of April 22), 26 percent of responding nonprofits are laying off or furloughing staff members, and 28 percent are reducing staff pay and/or hours.
  • The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits revealed that 86 percent of nonprofits reported decreased revenues, with the anticipated loss through the end of the organizations’ respective fiscal years to be nearly $433 million.
  • And a report from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits found that nonprofits in the state may have collectively lost more than $1 billion in revenues in April alone. Moreover, as of “early April, most nonprofits had experienced decreased ability to provide services (50%), decreased staffing levels (31%), reduced revenue from service fees (25%), decreased or anticipated decreased revenue from philanthropic funds (51%), and increased expenses (22%).”

For yet another perspective, this fresh report by the Center for an Urban Future, Essential Yet Vulnerable, provides an inside look at how individual human services nonprofits in New York City are confronting the combined challenges of huge increases in demands and millions of dollars in unexpected costs and lost revenue.

So, to answer the initial question of “what are other nonprofits experiencing,” it seems the answer is pretty much the same, whether in rural or urban settings, along the coasts, or in the heartland: it’s challenging for nonprofits everywhere. Almost universal revenue losses, many experiencing spiking demands for services with correlated increasing costs, and many others suspending operations and eliminating jobs or decreasing staff hours. And all at tremendous costs to mission delivery to the public. 

There is no easy way forward. But none of us should feel like we have to do everything alone. There is power in numbers, including the power of sharing information about what works and what doesn’t. Join your state association of nonprofits so you can access and exchange information, not only within your state, but also across the country as our network of state associations of nonprofits shares questions, problems, solutions, and improvements across state lines, every day. Want some proof? See page 5 of the UST report, COVID-19 Nonprofit Workforce Trends Report, which shows that in this time filled by “an overwhelming amount of news, websites and educational resources out there—designed to educate nonprofit organizations on the latest COVID-19 implications,” the non-governmental resource most nonprofits look to for trusted information is our network of state associations of nonprofits. Thanks for your vote of confidence.

1 The two surveys – taken by different groups of different respondents over different time periods using different questions – predictably produced numbers that do not equal 100, but the results do suggest a general sense of the relative sizing of nonprofits working remotely versus those working in place.

Find Your State Association of Nonprofits

Find Your State Association of Nonprofits

Connect with local resources and expertise


Connect With Us

1. Sign up for updates

Stay up-to-date with the latest nonprofit resources and trends by subscribing to our free e-newsletters.

2. Follow us on social media