The Impact of Covid on the Sector

As the challenges from COVID-19 continue, governments, organizations and funders need information about the impacts of the pandemic and what is most needed by the nonprofit sector at this time. To help provide a picture of the impacts, ABNN conducted a survey of the sector between March 30 and April 5, 2020, garnering 474 responses.


What are the greatest challenges?

Daily challenges of operating: Nonprofits are currently challenged by new ways of working - staff and volunteers working remotely, adjusting to virtual platforms and the technology challenges associated with this. They are dealing with staff absences brought about by daycare and school closures. While most organizations are currently open, they are operating with modifications including working remotely.

Funding challenges: Reduced revenues due to cancellation of fundraising events (casinos, events) and reduced donations are currently impacting organizations and organization anticipate revenues will continue to be an issue as the pandemic continues and over the longer term. In the longer term, they are concerned about low financial reserves and anticipate an increased demand for supports and services from clients and communities.

Top 5 Current Impacts:

  • Challenges of staff & volunteers needing to work remotely (90%)
  • Disruption of service to clients and communities (90%) 
  • Adjusting in-person events to a virtual platform (86%)
  • Staff absences due to child care requirements (80%)
  • Reduced revenue from fundraising (cancelled events, donations; 77%)

Top 5 Anticipated Impacts:

  • Concern over low financial reserve (75%)
  • Increased demand for supports/services from clients & communities (71%)
  • Reduced hours for staff due to budget constraints (69%)
  • Difficulty engaging volunteers (68%)
  • Reduced revenue from earned income (e.g., sales or fees; 65%)

What do organizations need?

Organizations identified several supports that would be helpful including financial, service delivery support, technology, justice, health support and access to concise, reliable information housed in one location. Across respondents, PPE supplies were also identified as a support need.

Most respondents were unsure about how much emergency funding they might require (27%), followed by 24% that anticipated they would need less than $50,000 of emergency funding to maintain operations and meet demand for services. Of course, the need varies greatly depending on the size of the organization and service delivery needs at this time.

Most organizations indicated that if provincial or other funding were to become available it should be directed to supporting organizations’ operations including staff wages, rent and other expenses.

Next Steps

Results of this survey provides ABNN and its partner organizations with direction on how to support the sector. Actions will include lobbying and advocacy; capacity building; ongoing outreach and updates; services and resources (including financial and volunteer recruitment); and research and evaluation.

As the situation continues to evolve it is important for all levels of government, foundations and other granting organizations to consider the nonprofit sector and its needs as they consider how to respond to the pandemic and address both immediate needs and future recovery needs.

If you would like to learn more about the survey and its results, please contact Gemma Dunn, ECVO at

Copyright (C) 2018
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software