COVID-19 Nonprofit Assessment Survey
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 6/18/2020 the survey concluded its 14th week with feedback from a total of 50% (87 out of 173 organizations) of surveyed nonprofit organizations. 68% (59 organizations) of respondents completed the survey two or more times. 48% (42 organizations) of respondents answered the survey at least once in both most recent rolling six-week survey periods.
Starting on 5/22/2020 several changes were made to the survey including a move to a bi-weekly survey and replacement of all narrative questions. Initially narrative agencies primarily were asking agencies to describe how they have been impacted in several different areas. The new narrative questions put an emphasis on looking ahead. This includes estimates on what it will take for agencies to recover and expected barriers to recovery, changes to operations perceived as long lasting or permanent, and areas of emerging innovation.
The graphs quantifying impact compare two rolling six-week time periods, weeks 1-6 and weeks 7-12 prior to the most recent survey administration end date. In the current reporting cycle this encompasses the time periods of 5/8/2020 through 6/18/2020 and 3/27/2020 through 5/7/2020. Only the most recent response is included per agency per time period, even if an agency responded to the survey multiple times in one or both of the rolling six-week periods. The respondent group in the more recent six-week period has decreased to 49 responding agencies, down from 81 responding agencies in the more distant six-week time period.
Due to the replacement of narrative questions starting in week 10 of the survey no thematic comparison to the previous survey time period is possible at this time. All identified narrative themes pertain to the time period of 5/22/2020-6/18/2020.
The financial situation of responding agencies was impacted significantly early on in the six-week time period between 3/27/2020 and 5/7/2020 with 79% (64 organizations) who reported some degree of decreased fundraising/revenue. In the more recent six-week time period between 5/8/2020 and 6/18/2020 a nearly equally large proportion at 80% (39 organizations) have reported some degree of decrease in fundraising/revenue.
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe what it would take for their fundraising and revenue to recover, what they expect as their biggest challenges to recovery, and to estimate the duration of the recovery period.
The survey spans two time periods from 5/22/20-6/4/20 to 6/5/20-6/18/20. The findings will be compared to identify any differences between the time periods and identify which themes are becoming more prominent.
Fundraising has been greatly impacted by the pandemic in the weeks of 5/22/20-6/4/20. Four agencies have indicated that funding has temporarily increased. The community has responded in a positive way in the form of individual contributions and others are strategizing on new forms of fundraising. For example, three agencies have indicated that they are exploring virtual giving with the possibility of making it more accessible to a wider audience. Although individual contributions have increased eight agencies indicated that maintaining income, funding being held in contracts, and the cancellation of fundraising events has led to a decrease in the amount of funds available. Twelve agencies have indicated that the amount of time to recover ranges from 18-24 months to the year 2022. While others are speculating, nine agencies indicated that re-opening and fundraising recovery is dependent on the pandemic and whether the State/Cities guidelines will allow them to proceed with their program activities. Meanwhile, as fundraising maintains a serious issue to handle, two agencies indicated that they are focusing on providing direct services to the community.
Fundraising and revenue follow the trend from weeks 5/22/20-6/4/20. As indicated by most agencies in the weeks of 6/5/20-6/18/20, six agencies have indicated that revenue is down due to lack of clients/participants. With the combination of contributions being down, as well as the rescheduling of fundraising events, six agencies indicated they are exploring other funding sources as well as strategizing new methods of fundraising such as virtual giving. Another case in which funds are down is due to the agencies COVID response. Some funds were allocated to the general operating cost to offset funding loss.
Five agencies indicated that recovery time would depend on the progress of pandemic relief. Although the future is uncertain some agencies have been explicit in their timeline estimating 16-24 months, Early 2021 and Spring 2021. Overall, the road to recovery is uncertain, most agencies are strategizing new ways to fundraise and engage individual contributions.
Operational Costs Impact
About half of organizations at 51% (41 organizations) in the six-week time period between 3/27/2020 and 5/7/2020 reported at least some degree of increase in operational costs. As of the more recent six-week time period between 5/8/2020 and 6/18/2020 that group has increased slightly in size to 57% (28 organizations). The group indicating significant increases in operational costs has grown from 30% (24 organizations) to 39% (19 organizations) of respondents. Simultaneously a relatively stable share at 18% (9 organizations) report decreases in operational costs compared to 19% (16 organizations) in the more distant six-week time period.
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe what it would take for their operational costs to return to recover, what they expect as their biggest challenges to recovery, and to estimate the duration of the recovery period.
The agencies operational costs time to recover vary in the weeks 5/22/20-6/4/20. The time it will take to recover, as indicated by eight agencies, range from 6-8 months, 18-24 months or not in the foreseeable future. Of course, like fundraising, many agencies depend on re-opening with seven agencies indicating that operational costs will not recover unless they re-open. Given that information we can deduce that the amount of time to recover is unclear due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. Ten agencies indicated that their operational costs have increased due to investing in PPE and sanitation measures to allow staff/participants to interact safely. To cover operational costs three agencies indicated that they are seeking other grants or funding sources to offset the costs incurred by the pandemic. Two agencies indicated that another challenge being faced is building the volunteer force and enrollment back up.
The pandemic has posed many challenges and organization operational caused is no exception in the weeks of 6/5/20-6/18/20. Six agencies have indicated that there has been in increase in costs. Two agencies indicated that operation costs have not changed, but a decrease in enrollment has led to operational costs being more of a burden due to PPE and sanitation safety for staff. Two agencies indicated that staff cannot come back due to closures as well as the safety and health risks. One agency indicated that they expected observational costs to increase over time. One agency indicated they are seeking additional funding meanwhile one other agency indicated no operational cost change.
The timeline to recover is uncertain though one agency indicated that they expect to recover by the end of the year.
Overall, the pandemic has caused operation costs to increase which is attributed to investing in staff/participant safety. This is a recurring trend carried over from weeks 5/22/20-6/4/20 to 6/5/20-6/18/20. Also, the lack of enrollment and activity also plays a major part in causing operational costs to be more of a burden. Low enrollment leads to less activity, less activity leads to less funding, less funding means operational costs becoming more of a burden.
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 six-week time period between 3/27/2020 and 5/7/2020 87% (71 organizations) expressed at least some degree of decrease. Those levels have remained similar in the time period between 5/8/2020 and 6/18/2020 with 83% (41 organizations) reporting some degree of decrease in their volunteer and event activities.
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe what they expect their volunteer and event activities to look like going forward and what changes they expect to last beyond the short term.
In the weeks 5/22/20-6/4/20, many agencies have had to handle a loss of volunteers and the cancellation of events. Twelve agencies have indicated that they have lost volunteers and canceled various events due to the pandemic. Three agencies speculate that events will be postponed for the next few months or Fall 2020 at the earliest. Seven agencies that the return of volunteers is pandemic dependent and that volunteers will return once they feel safe, or the agency’s starts to begin enrollment again. One agency indicated that they are still having small volunteer groups, and this will be the way volunteers gather until it is safe to operate in large group settings. Three agencies have indicated that they are suing virtual volunteering and using social media to reach out to potential volunteers. Finally, two agencies have indicated that they have had on change in volunteer support and they expect the volunteers that helped in the past will come back.
The pandemic has caused many agencies to cancel events until further notice in the weeks of 6/5/20-6/18/20. One agency is indicating that they will hold events in 18-24 months meanwhile two agencies are holding off on in-person events till next Fall and next year. Two agencies indicated that they are still holding drives and events with CDC recommended guidelines and cleaning of areas. One agency indicated they are exploring the idea of a possible reopening.
With many agencies canceling events two agencies have indicated that they are still engaging volunteers and having activities via Zoom and other online services. Although this is a common workaround many agencies have turned to, there are many challenges being faced. Two agencies indicated that they have lost volunteers, or the volunteer pool has shrunk due to health and safety issues. One agency indicated that no events are held at all. Finally, one agency indicated that it would take time to regain support from volunteers.
Agencies are still struggling to identify when volunteers or events can make a comeback. Although progress has been made to engage volunteers virtually there is still a long road ahead regarding returning to normalcy. Building the volunteer force is vital for many and the ability to grow this has been hindered greatly by the pandemic.
Service Needs Impact
A consistent majority of organizations are reporting increases in service need. In the six-week time period between 3/27/2020 and 5/7/2020 77% (61 organizations) expressed some degree of increase. Those levels have remained flat at 76% (37 organizations) reporting some degree of increase in service needs between 5/8/2020 and 6/18/2020.
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe what it would take for ability to meet client needs to recover, what they expect as their biggest challenges to recovery, and to estimate the duration of the recovery period.
In the weeks of 5/22/20-6/4/20 six agencies have indicated that they have pivoted to provide more directs services to the community. This ranges from rent/utility assistance and increasing the number of direct services provided. This increase in services comes with an increased workload with eight agencies indicating that they need staff to manage the workload, providing services according to CDC guidelines and capacity restrictions dictating wait times. Two agencies indicated that they have been using virtual tools to reach a wider audience and preform program activities. Furthermore, two agencies indicated that they are unsure if they can sustain service levels and whether they can resume in-person services.
In the weeks of 6/5/20-6/18/20, to meet client’s needs one agency indicated that they would need more funding to provide the technology and resources due to moving program activities online. Two agencies indicated that they have moved most program activities online. Eight agencies have indicated that since the pandemic client’s needs have increased due to online and remote being more accessible as well as under a global pandemic the need for resources can be much greater.
Although remote has been a great place for some agencies, some are struggling in implementing this strategy with one agency indicating that remote only reaches so much of the people they serve. One agency has indicated that they will continue services safely in June following CDC recommended guidelines. Three agencies have indicated that the timeline to recover is uncertain.
The overall trend seems to be that virtual activity has increased. With the increase of virtual comes the cost of maintaining and implementing virtual services for the future. Another recurring trend is the increase in client needs. The continuation of the pandemic causes more people to need services offered by non-profit agencies.
Changes in Organizational Approaches to Work with Clients
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe changes made to service delivery and program models and what changes they expect to last beyond the short term.
In the weeks of 5/22/20-6/4/20, seven agencies have implemented new safety measures in their program delivery. This ranges from implementing virtual options, new food handling policies, and social distancing/entrance processing. Although virtual has worked for some one agency indicated that it is not ideal for the clients they serve and hope to meet face-to-face when the pandemic allows them to. One agency indicated that it is still too early to say if any new policies will remain in place after the pandemic
As indicated above many agencies have strategized creative ways to deliver their program and provide resources to the community in the weeks of to 6/5/20-6/18/20. Fourteen agencies have indicated that they have implemented or fully moved program activities in an online format. Two agencies indicated that staff are continuing to work from home and suggested that it may be a permanent solution in the future.
One agency has indicated that they have learned how to support remote work as well as online activity due to the new program model. Three agencies indicated that they are exploring or have opened to continue program activities under the CDC recommended guidelines. Of course, with online brings more accessibility to several people you may have never been able to reach before. Three agencies have indicated that they have seen an increase in services provided as well as the number of people needing assistance.
It has been challenging for many agencies to continue operating, though many have found new ways to implement program activities virtually many have found ways to operate safely taking into consideration other people’s health.
Adjustments to Staffing Models/Availability/Readiness
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe changes made to staffing models and internal operations and what changes they expect to last beyond the short term.
In the weeks of 5/22/20-6/4/20, four agencies indicated that staff has had to take on multiple responsibilities and stay flexible. One agency has indicated that they have had to lay off staff at the beginning though they later secured a PPP loan and were able to hire most back. Three agencies indicated that they have established new protocols to keep staff and clients safe. Ten agencies have made use of working remotely and are considering implementing remote staff policies in the future. Two agencies have indicated that staffing has been adjusted to health-related guidelines or number of clients enrolled.
In the weeks to 6/5/20-6/18/20, three agencies indicated that staff has become overburdened in trying to balance responsibilities regarding sanitation/cleaning and program activities. One agency has started to use interns/youth to aid in taking some of the workload. One agency has indicated that they are not able to be fully staffed due to COVID guidelines and the size of the building being restrictive. With these challenges eight of the agencies indicated that they are currently working a remote/hybrid schedule.
Two agencies have indicated that due to the PPP and other funding sources they were able to keep most of their staff. One agency indicated that they secured a larger space to conduct activities that is in line with COVID CDC guidelines. This space is a permanent addition to the agency. Two agencies have indicated that they learned how to implement their program remotely as well as in-person following the CDC recommended guidelines.
Overall agencies have learned to operate in a hybrid form with some working remotely and some working on-site. Many agencies have been making policy/structural changes to accommodate a safe working environment and looking to implement new policies in the future.
In an open narrative response starting 5/22/2020 organizations are asked to describe innovative practices emerging in their organizations and which of them they expect to last beyond the short term.
In the weeks of 5/22/20-6/4/20, many of the practices being implemented have been a move to virtual. Twelve agencies indicated that they have moved some/most program activities via zoom or another platform. This helps reach a wider audience as well as more accessible to those who cannot leave their home. With new practices being implemented four agencies indicated that they have offered professional development opportunities to staff. Two agencies indicated that they have developed a stronger relationship with the clients being served due to constant contact and accessibility of telehealth. Two other agencies have indicated that they continue to build partnerships with other non-profit agencies.
With the new program models being implemented as well as the new guidelines being followed, many agencies are adopting new practices to use. In the weeks of 6/5/20-6/18/20, Fourteen agencies have indicated they are adopting online services or a hybrid form for the foreseeable future. One agency has indicated that they have and will be using social media to engage new participants not able to be reached in the traditional manner. One agency has indicated that they will now be putting the resources they offer online for everyone to use. Although virtual is good for most, one agency did not see it working in the near future due to accessibility issues with disabled participants. Online would only be temporary for them as they cannot implement their program to its full extent.
Overall, non-profit agencies continue to implement virtual services and opportunities to the clients being served. This seems not only to be the safest, but most accessible way for non-profit agencies to serve the community.