COVID-19 threatens the survival of local charities, nonprofits

Nearly 20 percent of non-profit organizations in B.C. may not survive financial impact of the pandemic, new report shows

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      COVID-19 is threatening the survival of charities and non-profit organizations across B.C.

      Results from a new survey by Vantage Point, Vancouver Foundation, and the City of Vancouver show that these organizations are at risk.

      Fifteen to 19 percent of non-profits face closure, and 23 percent may not last more than six months, according to a May 13 report called No Immunity: BC Nonprofits and the Impact of COVID- 19. Nearly 1,200 non-profit groups from throughout B.C. responded to the survey.

      Among other key findings:

      - 74% of respondents are experiencing reduced revenue from fundraising; 59% are seeing reduced revenue from earned income, while 40% have low financial reserves.

      - 78% indicated a disruption of services to clients and communities, while 52% are seeing an increased demand.

      - 68% are experiencing challenges related to staff and volunteers needing to work remotely; 35% have reduced hours for staff because of budgetary constraints, and 40% have laid off or anticipate laying off staff,

      “The bottom line of this report is that many charities and frontline agencies in BC are at risk and the people and communities they serve are going to fall through the cracks if we don’t rally together to act,” Kevin McCort, CEO of Vancouver Foundation, said in a release. “Our economy will not recover without the vital services non-profit organizations provide every day. We all depend on this sector doing its part to get BC back on its feet.”

      Survey respondents say they need support to rise above the challenges COVID-19 is presenting. They indicated that foundations, government, and business can help the most by providing financial assistance, as well as assistance with technology, expertise, volunteering, and facilities.

      In terms of specific, immediate support, nonprofits say they need help with applying for government and emergency programs as well as fundraising and grant writing.

      Among other forms of support needed include pay-as-you-go phones and grocery gift cards for vulnerable clients; help with food storage, distribution and delivery; and PPE for essential service workers.

      Financial needs also include rent and property tax relief, and advice on negotiating with landlords.

      “The voice of nonprofits has been loud and clear in this survey--COVID-19 is a perfect storm that has impacted all nonprofits no matter the size, subsector, or location,” the report says.  “The economic recovery of our province depends on the nonprofit sector being able to continue balancing the space between governments and the private sector to address unmet community needs and interests. This crisis will impact the nonprofit sector and our communities significantly over the long term if tactical bridging support isn’t immediately provided.”

      The report notes that needs include ongoing and increased donor support.

      The public can show support by volunteering and donating, supporting virtual events and fundraisers, and speaking to local decision-makers about the importance of nonprofits in their own lives.