COVID-19’s impact on N.J.’s nonprofits is severe, survey says

Initial effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak in New Jersey are already being felt by the nonprofit community.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly all of New Jersey’s charitable nonprofits (96%) are expecting significant or moderate disruptions to their operations moving forward, according to a rapid response survey by the Center for Non-Profits in partnership with the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers.

The survey pointed out how underserved communities — and the organizations serving them — were likely to be disproportionally affected by the crisis.

A majority (87%) reported significant or moderate disruptions to programs or operations when the survey was taken between March 13-17.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) said their staff could not work remotely due to the nature of their job or the organization’s mission. It was also noted many clients do not have internet access. These include nursing homes, domestic violence shelters, food pantries, health care, child care staff, HIV testing, animal rescue, performing arts, arts education and more.

More than 90% indicated they have already or will soon cancel programs or fundraising events, which typically generate a significant portion of revenue for each organization. Even postponing events will create cash flow and account balance issues.

When asked what nonprofits need from donors, philanthropy and the government, funding was the most urgent. Most surveyed said they have had to lay off staff or have already done so, and are fearful they will not be able to bounce back.

Other top needs include:

  • Relief and stimulus protections;
  • Flexibility;
  • Stability;
  • Communications, guidance and transparency;
  • Partnerships and connections;
  • Professional assistance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has already begun to test our health care, service delivery systems, democratic and societal norms in new ways,” Linda M. Czipo, CEO and president of the center, said. “The need for community and mutual support has never been greater, and it’s times like these that underscore the importance of mission-driven organizations — and the dedicated people who work for and support them. Nonprofits, already the forefront of strong, vibrant communities and partnerships, will be vital to addressing immediate needs and developing comprehensive solutions in the months ahead. Ensuring their ability to fill this role will be critical.”

The survey is available here.

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