Results from a recent survey of central Ohio nonprofit organizations in the health and human services sector show the impact of COVID-19 is lingering and lasting, affecting nonprofit service delivery, funding security and employee well-being. United Way of Central Ohio and the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County partnered with Illuminology to conduct the survey of 80 nonprofits in May 2021. According to the survey report, 75% of nonprofit programs are still operating at limited capacity, and all sources of revenue are down — collectively losing $72.4 million in revenue.
“While PPP and CARES funds helped float the nonprofit sector, there are significant concerns regarding funding, staffing and wellness that need to be acknowledged and addressed,” said Lisa Courtice, President and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio. “Vulnerable people in central Ohio struggled in a strong economy, and COVID impacted those people the most. Without our nonprofits running at full capacity, and in a way that supports staff well-being, we will continue to see the negative side effects of the pandemic.”
Underscoring elevated and sustained community needs, 87% of the responding nonprofits want to increase staffing heading into 2022. Right now, nonprofits are operating with just 89% of the staff capacity they had before the pandemic, and that staff is vulnerable. They are struggling with their own mental health and are not as effective at providing services virtually as they were in person. Less than half of organizations (37%) believe their organization to be very or extremely capable of supporting the physical and mental well-being of staff and volunteers.
“Our nonprofits have shown tremendous grit and agility in navigating the pandemic thus far,” said Michael Corey, Executive Director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County. “They have kept our community housed and fed and healthy despite enormous challenges–they’ve even taken the lead on improving access to vaccines. But we need to continue helping the helpers, especially through American Rescue Plan and philanthropic investments, to get our community through this next phase of COVID and our recovery from it.”
Meeting our community’s urgent and long-standing needs for child care, housing and food remains as imperative as ever. Federal support helped fill a hole during the height of the pandemic; however, more needs to be done to create and bolster systems that can support nonprofits in more sustainable ways. The needs in our region for nonprofits and the people they serve were great before the pandemic, and they have been exacerbated as a result of it.