COVID-19 Nonprofit Assessment Survey

WEEKLY COVID-19 SURVEY SUMMARY AS OF 5/21/2020

About the survey and its respondents

United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County started surveying community organizations on a weekly basis beginning Friday 3/13/2020 to assess impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on San Antonio nonprofits and their operations.

Included in the survey are organizations supported by the H. E. Butt Foundation, LISC San Antonio, the San Antonio Area Foundation, and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.

On Thursday 5/21/2020 the survey concluded its tenth weekly administration with feedback from a total of 84 nonprofit organizations. 60% (51 organizations) of respondents completed the survey two or more times. Most responses at 77% (question included starting in week four of the survey) represent organizations with a self-reported annual budget of above $1 million.

The survey weeks one through five (3/13/2020-4/16/2020) have been combined into an initial survey wave of data collection to capture the initial impact of COVID-19 on organizations. Analysis of responses submitted in survey weeks six and forward starting (4/17/2020 and after) are combined into a second survey wave. They are thematically contrasted with the initial survey period to evaluate whether and how organizations are experiencing change over time. A large proportion of respondents in the second survey wave at 67% (37 organizations) have responded to the survey in the previous first survey wave at least once. Due to the identified themes being based on response rather than organization counts duplication is present in the thematic analysis.

Fundraising/Revenue Impact

The financial situation of responding agencies was impacted significantly in the first survey wave between 3/13/2020 and 4/16/2020. 76% (95 responses) reported some degree of decreased fundraising/revenue. As of week five of the second survey wave ending 5/21/2020 an equally large proportion at 75% (90 responses) have reported some degree of decrease in fundraising/revenue.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 1 – 3/13/2020-4/16/2020

Commonly cited reasons for decreases in revenue include postponement or cancellations of fundraising events (30 responses), losses in general donation revenue (8 responses), losses in revenue from tuitions/participant fees (7 responses), loss of funder reimbursements or disbursements due to program closures (6 responses), loss of opportunity to generate revenue through business operations due to site closures (4 responses), and loss of general grant revenue (2 responses).

A commonly cited reason for increases in revenue are unexpected donations and gifts by individual donors and corporations (3 responses).

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Cited reasons for decreases in revenue include postponement or cancellations of fundraising events (19 responses), loss of opportunity to generate revenue through business operations due to site closures or capacity limits (12 responses), slowing in donations from individual donors (10 responses), revenue from new opportunities or expanded appeals are insufficient to make up for other shortfalls (7 responses), existing funders stopped providing ongoing funding (4 responses), a decline in corporate giving (2 responses), and grant makers currently not issuing new opportunities (2 responses).

Cited reasons for increases in revenue are the ability to secure grant funding from new sources (3 responses), funders disbursing already committed funding ahead of schedule (1 response), and existing funders increasing funding (1 response).

Operational Costs Impact

A majority of agencies at 60% (76 responses) in the first wave of the survey between 3/13/2020 and 4/16/2020 reported at least some degree of increase in operational costs. As of week five of the second survey wave ending 5/21/2020 a smaller proportion of responses at 50% (59 responses) indicate increases to operational costs by some degree and a growing share of responses at 26% (29 responses) report decreases in operational costs.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 1 – 3/13/2020-4/16/2020

Commonly cited reasons for increases in operational costs include expenses for basic needs goods for clients e.g. food, diapers (23 responses), technology investments to both allow for remote work and remote interactions with clients (22 responses), raised staffing levels and/or staff overtime to respond to increased community need (14 responses), and purchases of health/facility cleaning supplies and/or services (10 responses).

Commonly cited reasons for decreases in operational costs are furloughs of staff (3 responses) and decreases in regular business expenses e.g. for staff travel and utilities (2 responses).

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Cited reasons for increases in operational costs include technology investments to both allow for remote work and remote interactions with clients (19 responses), purchases of health/facility cleaning supplies and/or services (11 responses), expenses for basic needs goods for clients e.g. food, diapers (11 responses), raised staffing levels and/or staff overtime to respond to increased community need (4 responses), increases in mileage, mailing and postage costs for goods and/or program materials/services (4 responses), and necessary increases in physical client outreach (1 response).

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Cited reasons for decreases in operational costs include lower service and material costs due to reduced or canceled programming/operations (7 responses), salary reductions, lay-offs, and/or furloughs of staff (6 responses), and reduced utility costs (2 responses).

Volunteer & Event Activities Impact

From the start of the survey a large majority of organizations reported some degree of decrease in their volunteer and event activities. In the first survey wave between 3/13/2020 and 4/16/2020 92% (115 responses) expressed at least some degree of decrease. Those levels have remained unchanged as of week five of the second survey wave ending 5/21/2020 with 91% (109 responses) reporting at least some degree of decrease in their volunteer and event activities.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 1 – 3/13/2020-4/16/2020

Commonly cited specifics on decreases in volunteer/event activities include the reduction in or cancellation of most or all current volunteer activities typically involving volunteers (36 responses), cancellation of many or all events (21 responses), and the implementation or expansion of mechanisms to engage volunteers through remote volunteering (8 responses).

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Commonly cited specifics on decreases in volunteer/event activities include the cancellation of some or all programs or events typically involving volunteers (27 responses), reduction in or cancellation of some or all current volunteer activities (17 responses), the implementation or expansion of mechanisms to engage volunteers through remote volunteering including virtual volunteering and delivery of goods (6 responses), reduced numbers of individuals offering to participate in volunteer efforts (4 responses), inability of volunteers to access clients due to regulatory requirements (3 responses), and implementation of social distancing measures for remaining volunteer work (2 responses).

Service Needs Impact

A consistent majority of organizations are reporting increases in service need. In the first survey wave between 3/13/2020 and 4/16/2020 71% (87 responses) expressed at least some degree of increase in service need. Those levels have increased to 79% (95 responses) of responses as of week five of the second survey wave ending 5/21/2020 reporting at least some degree of increase in service needs.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 1 – 3/13/2020-4/16/2020

Commonly cited specifics on increases in service needs include demand for essential items/basic supports e.g. for food, housing, and infant/elder care items (30 responses), general volume increases in service requests (17 responses), increases in mental health pressures/stressors for clients (8 responses), employment and income supports (4 responses), and child care needs (2 responses).

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Cited specifics on increases in service needs include demand for essential items/basic supports e.g. for food, housing, and infant/elder care items (23 responses), general volume increases in service requests (20 responses), reduced effectiveness or inadequacy of virtual work with clients for some forms of services e.g. child therapy (5 responses), increases in mental health pressures/stressors for clients (5 responses), employment and income supports (5 responses), increased childcare needs (4 responses), increased overall volume of work due to service translation and delivery virtually requiring more resources (4 responses), and technology supports for clients (3 responses).

Changes in Organizational Approaches to Work with Clients

Virtually all responding organizations at 97%+ of responses since the beginning of the survey have consistently reported making adjustments to their work with clients in response to COVID-19.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 1 – 3/13/2020-4/16/2020

Commonly cited changes to how organizations work differently with clients in response to COVID-19 include transition of interactions with clients to phone or web-based formats (69 responses), discontinuation of services that couldn’t be delivered safely in-person or transformed into remote services (28 responses), arranging for pick-up/drop-off of goods with limited direct client contact (23 responses), increased cleaning/disinfection efforts and use of protective gear (12 responses), implementation of social distancing measures (11 responses), monitoring of health status of staff and/or clients (9 responses),  and transition to remote work for employees (9 responses).

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Cited changes to how organizations work differently with clients in response to COVID-19 include adjustment of service delivery to clients in phone, web-based, or other remote formats (68 responses), arranging for pick-up/drop-off of goods with limited direct client contact (26 responses), implementation of social distancing measures and use of personal protective equipment for staff and/or clients (17 responses), discontinuation of services that couldn’t be delivered safely in-person or transformed into remote services (13 responses), monitoring of health status of staff and/or clients (9 responses), limiting occupancy in service delivery locations/offices for staff and/or clients (2 responses), and increase in outreach efforts to existing clients to prevent disconnection (2 response).

Adjustments to Staffing Models/Availability/Readiness

The vast majority of organizations continuously report that they are making adjustments to staffing model/availability/readiness in response to COVID-19 with 83% (105 responses) reporting adjustments the first survey wave between 3/13/2020 and 4/16/2020 and 85% (102 responses) reporting adjustments as of week five of the second survey wave ending 5/21/2020.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 1 – 3/13/2020-4/16/2020

Commonly cited adjustments to staffing model/availability/readiness include transitioning staff to remote work (36 responses), limiting in-office presence to essential staff with remainder working remotely (18 responses), temporarily transferring staff from sized-down or currently closed services/units to other duties (15 responses), staff hours/shift length changes (8 responses), elimination of positions (7 responses), furloughing of staff (7 responses), pay cuts (4 responses), implementation of social distancing measures for staff (3 responses), and expansion of employee duties to include cleaning and health screening (3 responses).

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Cited adjustments to staffing model/availability/readiness include staff working remotely (33 responses), providing client services remotely (13 responses), limiting in-office presence to essential staff with remainder working remotely (14 responses), hours/shift length changes including both reductions and increases (11 responses), furloughs of staff (7 responses), conducting staff trainings and professional development (7 responses), instituting partial or full hiring freezes (4 responses), staff layoffs (4 responses), success in leveraging the Paycheck Protection Program to prevent staff layoffs (3 responses), planning for limited re-opening of facilities including policy changes (3 responses), temporarily transferring staff from sized-down or currently closed services/units to other duties (3 responses), location closures (2 responses), and transitioning to digital record systems (2 responses).

Technical Capacity for Virtual and Remote Work

During the first survey wave between 3/13/2020 and 4/16/2020 just over a third of organizations at 36% (22 responses) reported having only limited or no technical capacity to implement virtual or remote work remaining. As of week five of the second survey wave ending 5/21/2020 a higher share at 48% (56 responses) reported limited or no technical capacity for virtual and remote work. This question was introduced in week four of the survey and is therefore not included in the thematic analysis for the first survey wave.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 4/17/2020-5/21/2020

Cited factors limiting technical capacity include limits to fiscal ability to acquire needed hardware and/or software licenses (5 responses), inequities in the ability of clients to participate in virtual service delivery due to the lack of devices/internet connectivity/technological skills (3 responses), limited staff capacity for effective use of new technologies (2 responses), shortages in needed technological equipment delaying capacity increases (1 response), and limited ability to serve clients with disabilities virtually (1 response).

Paycheck Protection Program Application Status

Starting on 5/1/2020 the survey asked responding agencies to provide their status on applications for funds out through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) administered by the Small Business Administration. As of 5/21/2020 a significant majority of responses at 76% (54 responses) indicate that organizations had applied and been approved for funds with 69% (49 responses) reporting as already having received funds from the PPP. This question was introduced in week eight of the survey and is therefore not included in the thematic analysis for the first survey wave.

Themes in open ended responses from survey wave 2 – 5/1/2020-5/21/2020

Cited specifics around the PPP include that the received funds are sufficient to cover eight weeks of costs on payroll, rent/mortgage, and utilities as intended (20 responses), that the short funding duration still puts nonprofits at risk of losses later in the year due to expected revenue shortfalls (7 responses), concerns about changing guidance for use of PPP funds and accounting requirements (6 responses), concerns that non-profits with large staff counts are not eligible (4 responses), that received funds allowed for rehire of temporarily laid off staff (2 responses), and concerns that regularly utilized contractors are not covered by the PPP (1 response).