Survey paints stark picture for Hudson Valley nonprofits

Millbrook. Income plummets while many see increased need for services.

27 Apr 2020 | 04:23

    Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofit organizations are reeling financially because of the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

    For many, this has driven up the need for services while simultaneously causing a dramatic drop in revenue due to plummeting donations, fees for services, and canceled fund-raising activities.

    For others, it has meant a temporary halt to income-generating programs and activities.

    According to a recent survey of 215 nonprofits conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), more than half of the nonprofits surveyed throughout Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster counties described their financial circumstances as so difficult they may have to make significant changes – from laying off staff to ceasing operations - within four months or less.

    This, they say, is coming against a backdrop of increased demand among some nonprofits for their services due to heightened need brought on by the pandemic.

    The CEP study was commissioned by several Hudson Valley-based philanthropic foundations including the Dyson Foundation, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, United Way of the Dutchess Orange Region, United Way of Ulster County and United Way of Westchester and Putnam.

    These and many other philanthropic foundations have responded by creating new COVID-19 related grant programs and other funding opportunities designed specifically to address emerging nonprofit needs but the survey results indicate that the funding gap has become so pronounced some nonprofits are in danger of going under.

    “This survey makes it clear that some service providers are scrambling to survive while heroically continuing to serve their communities,” said Andrea Reynolds, president and CEO of the Millbrook-based Dyson Foundation. “We’ve sadly heard about the devastating effect COVID-19 has on businesses and also want people to be aware that another part of our economic sector - nonprofits and their employees - are in a similar bind. In addition to grant funding, they count on donations, events, fees for services, and other fundraising revenue in order to survive and unfortunately much of that income no longer exists.”

    Some summary findings from the CEP survey include:

    · 60% have added new services or projects to focus on a COVID 19 response.

    · 38% have already laid off staff and another 17% expect to do so.

    · 45% have experienced an increase in demand for programs and services; 15% expect increased demand.

    · 72% have experienced a decrease in earned revenue (fee for services, contracts, etc.) with another 10% anticipating such a drop.

    · 58% have experienced a drop in contributed income (grants, donations, etc.) with another 28% expecting a drop.

    · 68% have experienced reduced capacity due to absences and lost volunteerism; another 14% expect to suffer from reduced capacity.

    These findings have many of the CEP respondents concerned about the very future of their nonprofit organizations. When asked to estimate the number of months they could continue operating with current revenue streams “without severe disruption to your operating model,” survey participants responded:

    · One month or less (14%)

    · Two to four months (41%)

    · Four to six months (18%)

    · Six months or more (19%)

    · Prefer not to say (8%)

    In addition to seeking new sources of funding from foundations, many nonprofits are applying for relief from federal stimulus programs such as the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program offered by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) in response to the pandemic.

    People are urged to support their favorite organizations and donate to COVID-19 Response funds in their community.

    In order to view the CEP summary report visit https://dysonfoundation.org/images/stories/documents/MHVF_PDF_Report_2.pdf