Nonprofits Struggle Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on Sep 8, 2020 by

If a nonprofit organization is going to fulfill its mission, it needs a sustainable business model. This was always a challenge, but COVID-19 has upped the ante, leaving the health of many organizations in jeopardy.

Findings from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation’s Pandemic Recovery Nonprofit Survey explored what it will take for agencies to recover, lasting changes to operations, and areas of emerging innovation.

Amy Putzer, director of programs at the Community Foundation, says, “Two frequently recurring words dominated the survey comments: technology and fundraising. Nonprofit organizations are working hard to shift to a new virtual landscape for service delivery, fundraising, and remote work.”

Revenue streams have shrunk, but expenses are not going away.

Survey comments provide a sobering snapshot of the impact of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. More than 4 out of 5 nonprofits reported some degree of decreased fundraising or revenue.

“Special events made up nearly 40% of our annual operating budget. Until we are able to gather again in groups (and folks are comfortable doing so) AND the economic climate is more stable, we will continue to struggle to bring in the required dollars to fund our general operations,” shared one nonprofit leader.

The survey also revealed that 20% of nonprofits have had to temporarily or permanently lay off employees or cut employee compensation. While more than half of agencies have retained all staff positions despite reductions in revenue, they fear having to cut staff in 2021 if they are unable to secure operational funding to cover fundraising gaps.

One survey respondent stated, “We have implemented a hiring freeze. We are trying to do more with less. We have asked staff to take on different roles and responsibilities; wear more hats. I have great concerns that this is not sustainable as overflowing plates causes stress and impacts work-life balance during a time when home life is very important. I worry we may lose top talent if we can’t find a funding bridge.”

Groups already running on a shoestring have had their budgets stressed by needing to buy protective gear, laptops and tablets, new software subscriptions, and additional cleaning supplies and services.

There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future, and most survey respondents are anticipating a very long recovery process. View the full Pandemic Recovery Nonprofit Survey Report.

Community members are encouraged to continue to support the charities they care about or consider a donation to the Oshkosh COVID-19 Relief Fund.




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