A survey of dozens of nonprofit organizations across western Iowa and Nebraska finds many are still feeling the financial impacts of the pandemic after already losing millions of dollars in the past year.
Hannah Young, spokeswoman for the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, says their Nonprofit Pulse Poll shows the nonprofit sector is stabilizing in the two states, though the future remains uncertain.
“We’ve had a lot of federal funding that has helped a lot of nonprofits through the last year and now that that’s starting to back off, what will nonprofits do now? We just don’t know the answer to that yet,” Young says. “I think we’ll see next year how many, unfortunately, do have to close down or maybe merge.”
Mergers of nonprofits that offer similar services isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Young says, as two could emerge as a stronger one. Still, the survey found nonprofits surveyed anticipate losing more than $15-million dollars combined this year due to COVID-19, an average of nearly 100-thousand dollars per agency.
“That’s only out of 159 responses that we got, so that number is much, much larger,” Young says. “That number was just compiled of the average amounts that people projected they would lose in 2020. Again, that’s a very conservative number due to the fact that there are many, many more nonprofits in our area.”
Compared to a poll a year ago, the newest survey found 16-percent of nonprofits feel less financially stable than last year, and about six-percent report they are in financial crisis. Even with all of the challenges the pandemic presented, Young says some positives have come out of COVID as well, like expanding services, increased collaboration, and the rise of virtual programming and training.
“I think the biggest one is that virtual programming returned,” Young says. “That’s something, for instance, we’re doing. We’re able to reach so many more people now by having some of our meetings and webinars on Zoom. That’s a really cool opportunity that we had before but we didn’t really utilize.”
Many of the non-profits surveyed project it will be one to two years before they’re again operating at pre-COVID levels.