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Localizing the impact of covid-19 on nonprofits

April 20, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has meant curtains for performance arts organizations and other nonprofits around the world. How are local organizations faring? Photo of a red stage curtain by Rob Laughter via Unsplash

Just as businesses and consumers are feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofit organizations are feeling the pinch, too. Some may have had to cancel fundraising events or may find that their donors are supporting other causes during this time.

Here’s a look at areas to consider exploring in your coverage.

Nonprofits that support refugees or low-income groups

Refugees are already vulnerable group, and COVID-19 has only intensified their vulnerability. Do any local nonprofits serve this demographic? If so, what steps are they taking to protect their staff while also meeting the needs of the people they serve?

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that U.S. unemployment will exceed ten percent this quarter, and the abrupt spike in job losses have caused a spike in demand at local food pantries across the country. How are organizations meeting this need while observing social distancing? Are they setting up drive-thru food pantries, for instance? Or making food drop-offs?

Performing arts organizations

The spread of COVID-19 has had an especially dramatic impact on performing arts organizations such as dance companies, symphony orchestras, theatre companies, opera companies, and others who’ve had to cancel or postpone live events.

How are local organizations handling this? Are they streaming past performances online for a set fee or a donation? If so, what goes into licensing a show for streaming online? Are they asking patrons to donate the cost of their ticket to cancelled shows rather than issuing refunds? Are they creating humorous videos at a social distance to keep patrons entertained at home? Are they otherwise getting creative with online fundraisers?

All nonprofits

In surveying the current state of local nonprofits, consider not only the impact on programs and donations but also staff. Are employees currently furloughed or working reduced hours? Are local organizations applying for relief through programs like the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program? You can access financial documents for nonprofits through websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar.


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