Nonprofit organizations have taken a hit during the pandemic, experiencing difficulties in fundraising, while finding a continued or increased need to provide services.
On Thursday, Waynesburg University’s Center for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) held a virtual presentation to discuss a recent survey of nonprofit organizations and detail COVID-19’s impact on them.
Lisa Hannum, executive director of Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern PA, said the pandemic has left her agency in a constant state of turmoil, adding more work to a staff that is already overworked and underpaid as they assist those in dire need of help.
She said many aspects of the agency, which serves Fayette, Greene and Washington counties, had to be reconfigured as clients were suddenly locked down with their abusers, and changes had to be made to communal-living facilities in light of the virus.
“We need unrestricted funds to offset any unexpected expenses,” Hannum said.
While the agency received a great response early on in the pandemic, when she needed funding from corporate and nonprofit partnerships, she feared it would be like the response when a natural disaster hits: everyone initially rallies to help meet needs, but the help tapers off.
Stacey Brodak, vice president for institutional advancement and university relations at Waynesburg, recalled taking part in a program in the early days of the pandemic where someone equated the pandemic to a mass extinction of nonprofit organizations.
“We better want to understand those impacts,” Brodak said.
Dr. Jenny Jellison, a professor of psychology at the university, said the findings came from a 35-question survey sent out to 270 organizations in Greene and Washington counties, with 83 responding.
Jellison said they found that 60% who answered had to decrease their services since March, while others had an uptick in requests for services.
She said assistance with fundraising was the top need for area organizations. The second was the need to develop partnerships and the third was the need for help with hosting virtual events.
“The greatest source of lost revenue has been their events,” Jellison said.
The information gathered will be used to help the center’s corporate members in understanding the best ways to support the needs of nonprofits within their respective operating areas through meaningful and strategic corporate social responsibility decision making post-COVID-19.
Along with the findings, the CSR also put together a panel including Dr. Jim Denova, the vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; and Laural Ziemba, director of public affairs with Range Resources.
Ziemba said Range Resources started a community stimulus package around March, where they scanned down the list of organizations they’ve worked with and identified those with immediate needs.
Further, Ziemba said her company’s outreach has been evolving and adapting, even including plans for a telethon in the future.
“As a company, we can share on our social media and our Facebook page, but we as individuals can chose to spotlight an organization that is close to our hearts,” Ziemba said.