The Impact of COVID-19 on Non-Profits

We all know that COVID-19 has had a big impact on small businesses. But what about the challenges that non-profits are facing right now? In the last year, we have seen a significant impact on non-profits due to the financial, interpersonal, mental, and other effects experienced by individuals, families, and businesses who give back. Continue reading below to learn more about the key ways non-profits have been impacted negatively by COVID-19.


More Demand

Firstly, because the pandemic has been so hard on many of us in many different ways, it has increased the demand for the great help that non-profit and charity organizations provide to those in need. It is reported that almost half of Canada’s charities are experiencing higher demand due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic.


Less Revenue

...And while non-profits are trying to tackle more demand, they are receiving less revenue: for more than half of Canada’s charities, revenue decreased in 2020, evident by the fact that the year’s total donation numbers fell to that of 2016. Overall, Canadians donated $60 million less than they did in 2019. For many Canadians who give back, this pandemic has made it more difficult to do so because of the exacerbating recession. As such, unfortunately, the organizations and causes that we care about suffer because of decreasing revenue.


Loss of Staff

Another unfortunate side effect of the pandemic: 31% of charities have lost a significant amount of staff during the pandemic. Individuals’ struggle to survive financially has resulted in 60% of charities reporting a decline in volunteers, with most of these charities also reporting that their remaining volunteers have reduced their hours. Moreover, non-profit workers face the everyday difficulties of disorienting, changing environments, like changes to childcare and the move to online schooling, which leads to staff absences from work and an overall decrease in productivity for the charitable organizations.


Staff’s Decreasing Mental Health

For the caring, passionate people that work for non-profits, the pandemic’s increasing challenges are, unsurprisingly, difficult to manage mentally. Across Canada, 50% of charities report that staff’s work-life balance is noticeably suffering and burnout is a definite trend among workers. In Alberta, over 70% of charities surveyed reported a negative effect on staff mental health. Likely the biggest factors deteriorating staff wellbeing are more demand on the organizations, the decrease in co-workers and wages, and sudden changes to work life, along with the overwhelming feeling that so many people and causes need help during this difficult time, while staff and volunteers can only stretch themselves so thin.


Trouble Adjusting to Restrictions and Virtual Fundraising

Due to social distancing and mandated lockdowns, organizations are having to adjust to the new ways of giving, like through virtual fundraising, which isn’t necessarily a seamless process for every organization, and the decrease of in-kind donations due to less in-person giving. 75% of charities report that at least one type of donation has declined during the pandemic, with event-based fundraising suffering the most due to lockdowns prohibiting some amazing in-person events from giving back.


Less Diversity in the Non-Profit Sector

Certain causes are suffering more than others due to the pandemic: arts, culture, and recreation charities are more than twice as likely to have suspended operations. In Toronto, one of the biggest cities that arts and culture organizations thrive, about two-thirds of these organizations experienced a median decline in revenue of 50%. Government aid has favoured certain non-profit sectors over others, giving more to social services and health organizations and leaving behind those dedicated to causes deemed less essential, including education and research and arts, culture, and recreation.


We hope that this article has provided more insight into the effects that the non-profit sector has faced and continues to face in the pandemic. This article isn’t completely comprehensive of all the effects that COVID-19 has unfortunately had on non-profits. For more information, please visit these helpful resources:

Canada Helps - The Giving Report 2021

Imagine Canada - Ongoing Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Alberta Nonprofit Network - The Impact of Covid-19 on the Sector


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