While COVID-19 continues to disrupt life around the world, areas across North America are opening up and facing new challenges. From finding and managing employees to shifting programs and searching for new revenue streams, the pandemic impact on nonprofits is far-reaching and continually evolving.

Of course, there are many different types of organizations, and specific parts of the industry were hit harder than others—like the arts and education, which rely heavily on in-person programming. And the COVID-19 impact on charitable giving is still playing out, which makes post-pandemic planning all the more difficult.

So how do you begin to evaluate how your nonprofit has fared and what the future might look like? Let’s start with some data points.

Recent Reports: Pandemic Impact on Nonprofits

If you’re wondering what the current state of the nonprofit and charitable sector is in light of COVID-19, we’ve rounded up some of the latest reports that offer valuable insights. 

12 Months Later: The State of the World’s Nonprofits (Charities Aid Foundation of America)

With this survey of nearly 500 nonprofits in 129 countries, we learn that most nonprofits changed up their “business as usual” approach during the pandemic, tracked increasing costs, and (thankfully) experienced some much-needed flexibility from funders and donors. Most are also feeling pretty confident about the road ahead, with hopes to strengthen areas of operations like donor relationship management and communications.

The pandemic has prompted 71% of respondents to shift their organizational strategies to include new services or programs. Meanwhile, nearly 20% contracted their service offerings by scaling back programs.

Persevering Through Crisis: The State of Nonprofits (The Center for Effective Philanthropy)

This report is based on a survey of 163 nonprofit professionals from larger, grant-seeking organizations and offers a unique analysis of perspectives and strategies early in the pandemic (May 2020) compared to later on (February 2021). 

While most participants reported negative impacts, they weren’t as bad as originally anticipated in some cases. In fact, there were some brighter moments for organizations that received Paycheck Protection Program funding or received increased support and flexibility from funders.

While most nonprofit leaders who responded to our May 2020 survey said they had already or expected to reduce programs or services and draw from reserves, fewer of those who responded to our February 2021 survey report ultimately having taken these actions.

Nonprofit Return to Workplace Pulse Survey Report (Nonprofit HR)

If you’re grappling with when and how nonprofits are bringing people back to offices (or not), this report offers data from 635 organizations in the U.S., Canada and Australia. You can take a closer look at how successful nonprofits felt with moving to remote work, common concerns from staff and leadership about returning to offices, which mission types were most impacted by shifts in workplaces, and the most popular components of “return to workplace” plans.

The responses point to several critical findings, most notably that more than half of respondent organizations are considering future remote work options for any position that accommodates remote work.

The 2021 Giving Experience Study (OneCause)

“Social donors” are those who give through events and peer-to-peer fundraising, and OneCause set out to learn how giving among this group changed over the last year. Their survey of 1,026 donors shows that this audience continues to be motivated to give in response to current issues and specific needs, and they became even more likely to give via mobile and text donations during the pandemic. 

Virtual events are also a big win for this crowd, and most hope that virtual offerings become the norm—even though they don’t tend to stick around for the full time, especially with pre-recorded videos. All in all, this donor group found more ways and reasons to give during COVID-19 (and their average donation sizes increased, too).

The average donation from Occasion/Challenge Donors increased substantially from $99 in 2018 to $215. There is great opportunity to make giving more personalized, empowering donors to fundraise in their own way. It’s important to make it easy for Social Donors to spin-up their own occasion/challenge campaigns.

Additional Resources & Insights

There are other resources and data sets out there that provide compelling information about the pandemic impact on nonprofits. Know of others? Please share them in the comments section.

Even though the impact of COVID-19 on nonprofits isn’t fully known yet, resilient organizations of all sizes are moving forward with this new reality. And as this latest research shows, there’s a lot of flexibility, hard work and determination that’s making it possible: within nonprofits, across the communities they serve, and thanks to the supporters that step up to help.

What’s been the pandemic impact on nonprofits in your community or part of the sector? Do you notice any common trends among the organizations that seem to have fared relatively well during this time? I’d love to hear your observations in the comments.