As the pandemic and its aftermath continue to unfold, the nonprofit sector needs our help!
The pandemic created and exacerbated long-term challenges faced by the charity sector that are unresolved. While many countries have seen the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, thanks to the rollout of vaccines, many of the biggest impacts on charitable organizations will continue for years.
Recent studies underscore that recovery will be difficult for Canadian charities, said lawyer and McMichael Canadian Art Collection board member Karen McCleave.
Four out of ten charities in Canada continue to face declines in revenue, according to an August 2021 report from Imagine Canada.
“Some parts of our economy, like finance, construction and healthcare, have been able to weather the pandemic pretty well,” McCleave said. “Unfortunately, that’s not true of the nonprofit sector.”
To understand why that’s still happening, McCleave noted another recent survey of charities in the UK outlining the problems faced by nonprofits throughout the world. They include:
- the unpredictability of future funding
- the difficulty in long term planning because of uncertainty over imposed restrictions
- the time it will take to return to the same level of pre-pandemic operations
- challenges in returning to pre-pandemic levels of engagement when working with vulnerable people
“Some of the charities I spoke to were quickly able to move to provide services online and I believe we may have seen an acceleration of digital transformation in the sector – something many have wanted for some time,” wrote Helen Stephenson for the Charity Commission blog.
“For others, for example those who work outdoors or rely on live audiences, this was not an option.”
In Canada, after more than a year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the effects on charities have continued without much relief, according to Imagine Canada who reported:
“Our latest Sector Monitor survey shows how the pandemic continues to challenge the sector and suggests that recovery will be challenging for many organizations.”
- Among the 40 percent of charities facing declining revenues, the average decline is 44 percent. That number hasn’t changed since Imagine Canada’s last survey in late 2020. More than half of charities are still seeing revenue declines of more than 40 percent.
- On a positive note, roughly one-third of charities are now saying that their revenues are about the same as before the pandemic. About one in four charities reported increased revenues.
The Imagine Canada report also found that 56 percent of charities are still struggling, with their recovery at risk. Of these, 42 percent faced high demands for service that overwhelmed their ability to deliver services, while 14 percent experienced a significant decline in demand because of the inability to provide services during the pandemic.
“It’s fair to point out that the challenges felt by the nonprofit sector are also being experienced in many other parts of the economy,” McCleave said. “But charities support the most vulnerable members of our society. Without the food, shelter and resources provided by these organizations, the situations of many people would go from needy to truly desperate. Other organizations offer experiences, such as access to art and music, that are not available elsewhere. The possibility of these constricting, or even disappearing, will tear at our social fabric.”
The pandemic has created challenges unlike anything in our lifetime, McCleave observed: “As Canada and the rest of the world slowly recover from the economic and social upheaval, we must prioritize assisting our marginalized citizens.”
“I encourage everyone to connect with a cause in your community,” McCleave said. “We need to come together to overcome what’s happening right now. A good start is to support the nonprofits, so they can carry on their vital work”.