Study: Area non-profits concerned about payroll; struggling for money, volunteers

Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 5:13 PM CDT
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The Texas A&M Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Bush School of Government and Public Service is learning more from area non-profits about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them.

Center Director for Outreach and Professional Development Kenneth Taylor says non-profits’ day-to-day operations have changed “tremendously.”

“There’s only about 6% of all organizations that operate as usual, and 17% actually have a moratorium on providing services or have closed altogether,” said Taylor on First News at Four. “20% of all organizations—those primarily represent organizations that provide basic needs in the form of rent, food, utility assistance—20% of those organizations are working much harder.”

Increased need, decreased funding and a lack of volunteerism due to social distancing have been the main factors contributing to the non-profit struggles.

“Folks aren’t accessible,” Taylor said. “Many nonprofits rely on some form of volunteers, whether those volunteers be those that are out actually providing services on behalf of organizations, and then volunteers that are board members.”

As for the funding, Taylor offers a reminder that non-profits usually operate on a thin margin, and during the pandemic, it has only become thinner.

“Lower donations coming in, heightened responsibility in terms of those that are in need, so it really creates a situation that’s tough for any leader of any of these organizations to respond to,” said Taylor.

The financial issues are leading to payroll concerns, as well. Through mid-May, non-profits reported about 72% confidence that employees could be paid. Through mid-June, that number drops to 45%.

“I would say that many of our frontline workers are those that are truly in a really bad situation just as many of our economically disadvantaged populations are,” Taylor said.

Solutions will come in the form of relief from the pandemic, yes, but Taylor is clear: non-profit leaders need to be transparent during this time of crisis. That, he says, is how they will make it through.

“We never want to be blamed especially as a nonprofit leader for things that go bad, but we really truly need to be transparent as to what’s going on with our organizations,” said Taylor. “ [Transparent] to the community, to the board members—the good and the bad—and then use transparency as an opportunity to communicate with our donors, to let them know exactly what’s going on. They may not like everything that they hear, but donors in terms of being philanthropic, they want to help.”

For the full conversation, see the video player above. For the full report on the Center’s study, see the Related Documents.