The Pandemic Squeeze On Nonprofits Limits Services For Most Needy

A new Texas A&M survey found that financial constraints and safety concerns mean organizations can’t always reach the people who rely on them most.

By Michael Marks & Caroline CovingtonFebruary 3, 2021 11:50 am, ,

One consequence of the pandemic has been added pressure on nonprofits to serve people in need. But many nonprofit organizations themselves are struggling to stay afloat amid a weak economy and threat of exposure to the coronavirus.

The Texas A&M Center for Nonprofits recently published a survey about the pandemic’s impact on nonprofits. William Brown is the center’s director. He told Texas Standard that nonprofit workers are worn out by this Catch-22, or seemingly no-win, situation.

“These organizations typically run pretty thinly; not a lot of extra reserves. You add to that the increased pressure of people needing these services and then the limited capacity to be able to deliver … it ends up being quite a difficult situation for them,” Brown said.

One major limitation is money. In a troubled economy, there’s less money flowing to nonprofits, and as a result, many have had to reduce staff and limit services.

The other limitation is safety. Brown says many organizations simply can’t do the same work as before since they can’t see people in person because of the virus.

“One of the other things that we saw pretty consistently is that you can’t get to the people that need the services because you’re trying to protect yourselves and you’re trying to protect them,” he said.

Brown says these limitations tend to affect the most needy and vulnerable: the elderly, those without transportation and those without internet access.

The survey also showed that organizations run by, and often serving, people of color are disproportionately affected by the squeeze on nonprofits.

Brown says as the Texas legislative session gets into full swing, lawmakers need to work with nonprofit leaders directly to help them find ways to stay afloat and serve their communities, as the pandemic wears on.

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