How Has COVID Impacted Nonprofits in 2021?

September 27, 2021

The National Center for Charitable Statistics reports that over one and a half million nonprofits are operating in the United States. Though these organizations aren’t out for funds in the same way a corporation is, they were similarly impacted in the wake of COVID-19. The impact of COVID on nonprofits may have even surpassed its effects on privately held companies. If you’re wondering exactly how this affected NGOs and what can be done about it, consider the following four ways COVID and nonprofits intersected to create the perfect storm.

Reduced Workforce Limited Resources

When COVID hit, almost every business found itself forced to cut staff, reduce hours, and enter a hiring freeze. With sales plummeting, payroll was impossible to maintain for many companies. The same is true of NGOs during the pandemic. Though not reliant upon sales, nonprofits were suddenly faced with fewer resources to sustain their staff and operations. This resulted in massive cuts to the NGO workforce and a dearth of resources to continue operations. This may be the most significant impact of COVID on nonprofits.

Remote Work Impacted Performance

As the workforce for nonprofits dwindled, those who remained were typically relegated to a laptop at home to continue doing their jobs. Working remotely majorly impacted NGOs and reduced staff morale that was already likely suffering. Working remotely didn’t just damage morale, though — it also limited communication within organizations and made it more difficult to complete collaborative tasks. Remote work afflicted companies as well as NGOs.

Donors Shifted Their Priorities

Many nonprofit organizations already run on a shoestring budget. COVID and nonprofits proved to mix badly when the pandemic decimated the donations that fund such organizations. As many Americans lost their jobs and struggled to pay bills, the charity that NGOs rely on evaporated quickly. Donors quickly shifted their priorities to survival, and nonprofits were left to develop new funding strategies independent of donations. These strategies were particularly challenging in light of social distancing regulations and mask mandates that limited NGOs ability to seek out new donors in in-person events.

Fundraising Strategies Changed

With these limitations in place, nonprofits were forced to innovate new strategies for fundraising, many of which involved online campaigns and events. Luckily, organizations that invested in nonprofit insurance prior to the pandemic had an easier time adjusting to the changes — but all NGOs had to adapt and innovate in the face of COVID. Online events such as livestreamed concerts, meetings, and fundraisers were used to maintain donor engagement and attract new donors. Some of these efforts were successful, while others barely alleviated the struggle. It’s clear that nonprofits must prepare for the unexpected and protect their interests proactively.

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