BLOOMINGTON and INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—The effects of COVID-19 have been felt far and wide across the globe, but a new report finds that more than half of Indiana’s nonprofit organizations have cut or reduced programs since the pandemic hit the state in March, with revenues also drastically affected.
The report, Indiana Nonprofits and COVID-19: Impact on Services, Finances and Staffing, by Kirsten Grønbjerg, Elizabeth McAvoy, and Kathryn Habecker, examines the effects of the crisis on the state’s nonprofit sector. The report is based on a joint effort of Indiana United Ways and the Indiana Nonprofit Sector Project to survey 512 Indiana nonprofits in May 2020 about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations.
The report documents profound impacts. More than half (60 percent) have curtailed or suspended programs and 70 percent operate other ongoing programs with limited or reduced capacity. Almost as many (69 percent) have moved programs to online or phone platforms, although they also report widespread technology needs by their clients or for their own operations.
The pandemic has also created major revenue shortfalls for a majority of Indiana nonprofits, with 71 percent of those surveyed reporting that they have lost revenues since March 1 due to the crisis. Losses in donations, special events income, and fee-for-service revenues have been particularly pervasive, although access to the Payroll Protection Plan under the CARES Act has softened the blow for those that applied for and received loans under the Act (about half), especially larger nonprofits.
Finally, nonprofit staff are facing significant challenges from a variety of sources, including the need to retool programs and compensate for absent volunteers. While job losses appear to have been modest so far, that may change if revenue shortfalls continue.
“Our study demonstrates that Indiana communities are being hit by a triple whammy — not just by the COVID-19 pandemic itself and the widespread economic disruptions brought about by efforts to curtail it, but also by a severely weakened safety net because of the pandemic, just as the need for services is growing,” said Kirsten Grønbjerg, co-author of the report, who is director of the Indiana Nonprofit Sector Project, Distinguished Professor at O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington, and Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy (2001-2020) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.
Moreover, as Kathryn Habecker, co-author of the report and impact and advocacy manager at Indiana United Ways, notes, new data on Indiana ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families show that “more than one-third of Indiana households faced significant economic hardship well before the pandemic hit. Many already were just a paycheck, car repair, or medical bill away from disaster. Unfortunately, many more have joined their ranks over the last three months.”
About the briefing
This briefing is part of series of reports from the Indiana Nonprofit Sector: Scope and Community Dimensions project, designed to inform local community leaders and policymakers. The analysis is a joint effort of the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and Indiana United Ways. The briefing’s co-authors are the director of the project, Kirsten Grønbjerg, research assistant and IU undergraduate student Elizabeth McAvoy, and Kathryn Habecker, advocacy manager, Indiana United Ways.
About the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
The O’Neill School is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2020 “Best Graduate Public Affairs Programs” by U.S. News & World Report, the O’Neill School’s Master of Public Affairs program ranked first in the country as did its nonprofit management program. Five other of its specialty programs are ranked in the top five.
About Indiana United Ways
Indiana United Ways is the state association for United Ways in Indiana that supports thriving United Ways through capacity building, shared services, and partnering. Visit iuw.org to learn more.
About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy — voluntary action for the public good — through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.