As I See It | Missy Gale, CFRE | President & CEO
Survey Findings: The Effect of COVID-19 on Nonprofits Over the Past Three Months
More than 50 unique voices, largely from the North Texas region, responded to our survey last month. They shared concerns regarding finances, the mental toll of these enduring hardships and the obstacles of fundraising in an uncertain time. We also heard some of the positive effects of the pandemic as nonprofits pulled together to help their clients, fulfill their missions in new ways and raise more money from a strong and caring philanthropic community. There is no doubt that the events of the past three months will remain in all of our memories for decades to come.
- More than half of respondents reported loss of revenue and loss of fundraising revenue.
- Some nonprofits, 16%, reported increased revenue from either new services or expansion of current services.
- More than 85% of respondents had a negative outlook or predicted future financial hardships.
- A majority of respondents expect to decrease programming and services while facing increasing demand for these services, leaving a critical gap in the community safety net.
- About 33% of nonprofits reported furloughs and/or layoffs – with as few as two employees affected, up to 1,150 employees affected.
- 75% of respondents reported more frequent communication with stakeholders, with 78% of those asking for funds due to COVID-19.
- While 63% of nonprofits agreed their board helped make the necessary adjustments in safety, staffing and programming, only 42% agreed that the board assisted with emergency funding.
- Acquisition of new donors was positively impacted for 37%. Some organizations, 26%, also reported an uptick in major giving. Planned giving so far is largely unchanged.
- 70% of respondents reported their organization is having conversations about social justice and racial equity with staff and leadership
Since M. Gale’s initial offering of complementary consultations, I have noticed the initial desire to quickly “pivot” change to finding the word itself tiring and even repulsive. As humans, we are willing to stretch to make necessary changes. But continuing through a change journey to a new platform is much harder. Perhaps initial results were strong but have now waned. Or worse, initial efforts from pivoting did not yield results. Those willing to keep exercising the muscle of doing new things will stand this test of time. Defining your program and fundraising strategy is step one, implementing it and holding your team cohesive and accountable is step two. Step three is found on the next platform up.
All of this said, nonprofit professionals—this message is for you:
Please don’t stop courageously pursuing your mission. Your work in the community is invaluable and we need you now more than ever. Keep communicating. Remind your supporters why your mission exists. Don’t stop asking for support from your board, your donors and the community at large. Share how your programs have adapted, and how you’re moving forward. If your nonprofit is facing dire financial need, seek collaborators openly and let your constituents know.
For CEOs and Executive Directors:
Pay attention to your overall health and that of your staff and leadership volunteers. The stress caused by this pandemic has affected all aspects of their lives, not just their work life. Most people respond best to transparency coupled with a plan that you support, monitor and provide routine feedback. Results may fluctuate right now but through a well–planned, systematic approach, you can achieve strong outcomes. Ask for input and be open to try new ideas. Your leadership role includes providing optimism and shedding light where there is darkness.