B.C. non-profit organizations say they’re at risk due to pandemic restrictions, with 15-19% saying they face closure and 23% saying they might not last another six months.
Already some 40% have laid off or anticipate laying off staff.
It’s a situation that’s affecting arts organizations, sports and recreation groups, environmental organizations and social service agencies, says the ‘No Immunity’ report from Vantage Point and the Victoria and Vancouver Foundations.
“Our sector fills the gap between government and the private sector,” said Alison Brewin, executive director of Vantage Point, a governance, leadership, planning and human resources organization for the sector.
Key findings in the report are that:
74% of non-profits have experienced a decrease in funding;
52% are seeing an increased demand for services;
35% have reduced hours for staff because of budgetary constraints;
74% of respondents are experiencing reduced revenue from fundraising;
59% are seeing reduced revenue from earned income;
68% have struggled to manage working from home; and
95% report higher stress levels because of COVID-19.
The research found essential service workers don’t have access to personal protective equipment, that vulnerable clients are experiencing isolation and food insecurity, shifting to more virtual work has led to unexpected costs for new technology and staff time and funding opportunities have been delayed, cancelled or become more unpredictable.
The report also found organizations are stressed with rental costs for now-unused workspaces, that volunteer support has dropped and layoffs are leading to extra hours being worked by remaining staff (often without funding/compensation). And that emergency salary supports don’t benefit organizations that rely on volunteers, contractors and freelancers.
“The bottom line of this report is that many charities and frontline agencies in B.C. are at risk, and the people and communities they serve are going to fall through the cracks if we don’t rally together to act,” Vancouver Foundation CEO Kevin McCort said. “Our economy will not recover without the vital services non-profit organizations provide every day. We all depend on this sector doing its part to get B.C. back on its feet.”
Brewin said non-profits have been digging deep to continue to provide services.
“Our most vulnerable residents rely on civil society organizations at the best of times, let alone when we’re facing something as unprecedented as the COVID-19 outbreak,” Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson said. “While it’s distressing to see the challenges highlighted in this report, this entire situation has been an important reminder of just how vital these organizations are and how essential it is they be able to remain stable when they’re needed most.”
Respondents in the research said foundations, government and business can help by providing financial assistance.