Small Connecticut nonprofits hit hard by COVID-19, survey finds

Small Connecticut nonprofits hit hard by COVID-19, survey finds

Small nonprofits in Connecticut are struggling to maintain their level of service during the coronavirus pandemic, a report from CT Community Nonprofit AllianceFio Partners, the New Canaan Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven finds. 

Based on a survey conducted from June 18 to July 2 of more than two hundred and fifty nonprofits, the report, CT Nonprofits & COVID-19: A Pulse Survey on Organizational Impacts and Needs (18 pages, PDF), found that 29 percent of all respondents, 46 percent of small organizations with annual budgets under $1 million, and 19 percent of larger organizations said they were "struggling," while 28 percent of all respondents, 20 percent of small nonprofits, and 36 percent of large organizations said they were "doing well." According to the survey, 82 percent of respondents had experienced financial losses because of the pandemic, with roughly half of large organizations able to keep their losses to under 5 percent of their operating budget, while only 28 percent of small nonprofits were able to do so. Small nonprofits also were twice as likely as large organizations to say they were somewhat or very unlikely to be able to fund payroll over the next three months or be able to provide a full menu of services to clients.

When asked about re-opening and resuming full operations, a large majority (76 percent) of respondents had concerns about safety and access to supplies, followed by financial concerns (63.9 percent); the need to address board/staff diversification, equity, and anti-racism work (36.1 percent); having adequate technology to support remote staff (34.9 percent); access to personal protective equipment (31.5 percent); staffing concerns (31.5 percent); access to COVID-19 testing (22.7 percent); and board engagement (21.9 percent). Small nonprofits were more likely than larger organizations to cite financial problems (71.4 percent vs. 62.3 percent), while larger organizations were more likely to be concerned about addressing issues around race and racism (41 percent vs. 28.6 percent) and nearly twice as likely to cite technology, PPE, and staffing as challenges.

When asked about the critical needs of their clients, respondents cited food security (22 percent), mental health supports (19.5 percent), employment supports (15.4 percent), and housing (10.2 percent) as priority needs. The top activities respondents planned to pursue over the next three to six months were program development (91.3 percent); risk management and planning for re-opening (89.3 percent); policy and procedure development (87.2 percent); diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives (85.7 percent); and strategic planning (85.5 percent).

"COVID-19 has challenged community nonprofits in every possible way, from fundraising through the delivery of services," said CT Community Nonprofit Alliance president and CEO Gian Carl Casa. "Many human service providers on the frontlines of the crisis have struggled to continue to keep their doors open, while protecting both employees and the people they serve. If our members are going to stay in business and continue to deliver services that people need, it is more important than ever that they be properly funded."

(Photo credit: Connecticut Food Bank)

"CT Nonprofits & COVID-19: A Pulse Survey on Organizational Impacts and Needs ." CT Community Nonprofit Alliance report 09/16/2020. "Alliance Survey: Connecticut nonprofits meet COVID challenges; face daunting financial future." CT Community Nonprofit Alliance press release 09/16/2020.