August 1, 2020

Pandemic Forces Nonprofits To Close, Cut Back On Programs

Unsplash/ Franck V.

Unsplash/ Franck V.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — More than half of Indiana’s nonprofit groups that provide services to those in need have cut back on programs or reduced their capacity in recent months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a report has found.

Between revenue declines and fundraiser cancellations, about 60% of not-for-profit groups have suspended or ended programs such as summer camps, after-school programs, mentorships and volunteer programs, according to the report from the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and Indiana United Ways.

When schools closed in March, Nine13sports Chief Executive Tom Hanley wasn’t sure what to do. His organization’s programs that teach kids how to ride and build bikes are directly tied to partnerships with schools and community centers.

“In March, our world changed just like everybody else’s,” Hanley told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

He started thinking of ways he could re-purpose his group's assets and skills.

Nine13sports pivoted into food distribution and partnered with Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Second Helpings and Indy Hunger Network to deliver food to those who are unable to pick up distributions themselves. Hanley said his staff has delivered 2.5 million pounds of food.

Other not-for-profits have shifted as much as possible to virtual programs. According to the IU report, 69% of organizations statewide are providing more programs either online or via telephone. Few have slowly and cautiously started to reintegrate in-person programs and services.

Kirsten Gronbjerg, professor at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and an author of the IU report, said the future of not-for-profits depends on how the pandemic plays out. If the size of gatherings is restricted again, even more programs might need to be cut.

“We are cautiously opening back up,” Gronbjerg said. “But given what’s happening in other states, I don’t know if that’s going to continue to be our track.”

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