An empty road running through a forest.

In February 2020, Forbes surveyed their “Nonprofit Council” about how the nonprofit field will change by the year 2025. The council members hit all the expected areas: an increase in digital marketing, the need to appeal to a younger donor base, and the importance of developing a culture of diversity. Not surprisingly, no one mentioned a global pandemic shutting down offices and causing the potential for an economic downturn. Although economists agree that it’s too early to tell the complete scope of how Covid—19 will impact our sector, three months later things look very different than they did in February.

A March 2020 survey from the Nonprofit Finance Fund shows that depending on the services offered nonprofits are experiencing a significant increase or decrease (25% or more) in usage of services. Similarly, depending on the sector, they are experiencing either an increase or decrease in earned, philanthropic/donor, and government revenue. It appears everything is still very up in the air. What everyone can agree on, is that further destabilizing conditions could threaten the long-term financial stability of many organizations.

An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that after the stock market crash of 2008, charitable giving plunged 5.7%, the steepest decline since 1956. The article says it’s too early to tell if a similar overall dip is coming in 2020. But, there may be a reorganization of funding priorities. Experts quoted in the article see this as a time for nonprofits that are able to dip into the reserve funds. They also urge organizations to avoid making decisions such as layoffs based on assumed outcomes. Nonprofits are also advised to stick to their core missions and put off any plans for expansion into new fields.  While resources such as the Greater Washington Community Foundation are attempting to meet the need with new grants, funding for many organizations will be a challenge in the year ahead.

At Brighter Strategies we know that the nonprofit world will look very different six months from now. It’s possible that organizations will merge or change focus in order to adapt. Some will experience layoffs but others will grow – either scenario will require leadership to rethink staffing and resource plans. If you want help thinking through your new reality, whatever it might be, let us know. We are currently offering free, one-hour consultations to help you think about the future and address any pressing needs. Simply fill out our contact form and check the “consultation” box if you’d like to participate. While we don’t know what the future holds, we do know that talking to a trusted advisor can help and we are here to support you.