Nonprofits doing better than thought during COVID

When Gov. Jay Inslee announced the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order in March due to COVID-19, local nonprofits were worried they wouldn’t survive.

But participants in a recent Bainbridge Community Foundation event said the resiliency of the community has been inspiring — with employees, volunteers, board members and donors coming together to keep the nonprofit sector alive.

New connections and partnerships between nonprofits have formed, and many found they could broaden their geographical reach by offering virtual programming. As one participant said, “We’ve had better, more meaningful and more productive partnerships than we’ve ever had… and I see that continuing on in the future.”

Nonprofits have also been able to bounce back from an unpredictable few months following Inslee’s order. In a survey conducted by BCF in partnership with Kitsap Community Foundation released March 24, 2020, almost 30 percent of nonprofits responded that they likely could not survive six months of shelter-in-place due to lost revenue. But in the latest survey this month, zero nonprofits reported that they would not survive social distancing. Additionally, over 85 percent of nonprofits reported that fundraising in 2020 either met or exceeded expectations.

BCF conducts an annual nonprofit survey and organizes gatherings with nonprofit leaders to collect data — which it then turns into action. Results lead to grants and programs that help meet the needs identified.

This year BCF conducted its survey prior to its sector gatherings, and nonprofit leaders discussed its most urgent findings virtually Feb. 10-11.

Preliminary survey results show that isolation and mental health challenges are impacting programs and services across the nonprofit community, and nonprofit leaders identified Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) as a future priority for training.

As one nonprofit leader said, “IDEA shouldn’t be a fad, we need to make it genuinely meaningful to the people we serve.”