When CEP released a report last June about the state of nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic, prospects looked bleak. Nonprofit leaders from our Grantee Voice panel revealed that the pandemic was devastating their organizations as well as the people and communities they serve, with magnified effects for nonprofits providing direct services or serving historically disadvantaged communities. The one bright spot in our data was that foundation support was helping nonprofits—organizations that primarily rely on foundation funding reported fewer negative impacts from the pandemic and more stable revenue than those that rely upon earned revenue or individual donors.

A lot has changed since then. In the spring of 2020, the federal government offered the Paycheck Protection Program to financially support organizations, including nonprofits, through the pandemic. Many individuals and organizations grappled, more than they had been, with our country’s historical legacy and present perpetuation of systemic racism. A new president took office amidst numerous threats to our democracy and political process. We developed and have begun disseminating life-saving vaccinations to stem COVID-19’s spread. In parts of the world, businesses and nonprofits are re-opening their doors.

So how have these changes over the last year affected nonprofit organizations? Where do they stand relative to the grim outlook projected one year ago? To find out, CEP conducted a follow-up survey of our Grantee Voice panel in February 2021 and received 163 responses.

Here is what we learned:

  1. Most nonprofit leaders report that the COVID-19 pandemic has had negative impacts on their organizations and has affected their programming, revenue, demand, and costs. Arts and culture organizations have experienced more negative effects from the pandemic, while community and economic development organizations experienced fewer negative effects.
  2. Increased financial support from foundations, individual donors, and the government—including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding—helped nonprofits to fare better through 2020 than their leaders had originally anticipated.
  3. Many nonprofits report that their foundation funders were flexible, responsive, and communicative in 2020. However, nonprofits led by women and nonprofits serving certain communities (including Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and Native American communities) experienced somewhat less flexibility, responsiveness, and communication than other nonprofits.

Read the full article about new nonprofit data by Kate Gehling and Hannah Martin at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.