Giving Compass' Take:

• Surveys of small business owners show a lack of hope in staying afloat during and after COVID-19, despite government aid efforts. 

• How can donors help support small businesses during this time? 

• Check out this list of vetted coronavirus and COVID-19 relief funds. 

Pandemic-related disruptions already had owners across the United States struggling and they had already laid off large numbers of employees by the time Congress passed its initial relief package, according to the preliminary results of the nationwide survey of more than 8,000 small-business owners.

The survey, conducted between March 28 and April 20, offers insight into how small businesses have responded to economic uncertainty amid the COVD-19 crisis.

“The COVID-19 crisis presents severe challenges for all small businesses, which account for the majority of companies in the United States,” says John Eric Humphries, an assistant professor of economics in Yale University and a principal investigator of the project.

“The data and insights we’ve collected can help policymakers design and implement effective measures to support small businesses in these extremely challenging times.”

“This study brings distinctive perspective, offering new detail and understanding of how small businesses are adapting and on their outlook for the future,” says David Wilkinson, the Tobin Center’s executive director. “The Tobin Center seeks to reduce time between research and impact. This scholarship provides government information on small business sentiment much faster than traditional alternatives—valuable information to have, given the rapidly changing landscape.”

More than 60% of respondents reported laying off at least one employee due to the pandemic, and 31% stated that they expected to have layoffs within the next 60 days. A quarter of respondents don’t expect to ever recover, and 31% reported believing that they have a 50% chance of going bankrupt or out of business within the next six months.

Business owners’ confidence in the future deteriorated steadily over the course of the survey. In the first week, 37% reported that they did not expect their companies to recover within two years. That number rose to 46% during the final week of this initial phase of the survey.

Read the full article about the future of small businesses by Mike Cummings at Futurity.