Enduring damage: local and beyond

Contributed by Lara Jakubowski
Senior Consultant, La Piana Consulting
When the national shutdown began in March due to COVID-19, nonprofit organizations immediately began to feel the impact. La Piana Consulting wanted to understand just to what extent nonprofits were being impacted across the sector. We immediately rolled out a survey to take a pulse of each organization’s situation and re-distributed the survey one month later to analyze trends and to develop an updated understanding of the enduring impact. The results of the March survey were sobering, if not surprising. The results of the April survey confirmed that the damage we reported a month earlier was enduring, and the future, at best, uncertain.
Our two surveys were taken by a total of over 750 participants and garnered an international response. Of the respondents, we were able to identify a sub-group working in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The data shows that the impact of COVID-19 on local nonprofits aligns with the unfortunate trends across the nation. In March, more than 70% of respondents reported a decrease in revenue, with some indicating a loss of 100%. In our April survey, this average number increased to 90%. The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program loan has been requested by 78% of respondents in the Colorado region and yet at the time of the survey, just 50% of those organizations had received their funding.
Beyond revenue loss, 91% of organizations have rapidly changed how they operate and provide services. Over the past two months, 80% of respondents have moved some or all programs to an online or digital delivery method, with Colorado organizations reporting an even higher percentage. On average, respondents have laid off or furloughed 18% of their staff.
The data is echoed by personal stories from the sector, further driving home the impact of COVID-19. One respondent discussed the importance of the organization’s work despite the current medical climate. “Domestic violence during stay at home orders is difficult to mitigate; we expect an explosion of need for our services as the orders are relaxed.” Another respondent shared how their organization is currently suffering due to the decrease in revenue and services offered. “… the number of visits we’re facilitating is down significantly, the revenue is down dramatically (because of zero transportation reimbursement dollars), and MOST important children’s well-being; emotional, mental and, sadly, some physical is suffering.”.
Colorado’s nonprofit sector has risen to the occasion in the past, (such as during the 2013 flood), to meet the needs of residents. COVID-19 will have wide-ranging and long-standing impacts on our community and our nonprofits must be resilient to continue to meet the needs of our residents.  
Related readings: