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  • Ashley Tilley

3 Impacts of COVID-19 on Non-Profit Organizations

Despite vaccinations underway, COVID-19 continues to disrupt many sectors – and the non-profit industry is no different. For many front-line organizations, operating on a small budget is nothing new. But navigating pandemic-related challenges while also facing an increase in demand for programs and services? That’s unchartered territory.

Luckily, the world of not-for-profit is well known for its flexibility, capacity and resilience. Here are three significant areas that require extra resourcefulness from non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Like many businesses, most non-profits have experienced disruption of operations and services to their clients and communities. Arts and culture, sports and recreation, child care, and non-profit social enterprises have been severely impacted – some to the point of closing their doors. Simultaneously, almost half of non-profits are experiencing higher demand, causing many to consider adding additional programs or services.

Due to the pandemic’s constraints and uncertainty, in addition to the constantly evolving government restrictions, non-profits are adapting their operations. Many are now offering virtual service delivery, connecting personally with donors, and refocusing on enhancing organizational strategies.


Most non-profit organizations report a fragile financial situation caused by the pandemic, with revenue declining by an average of 16%. About one in six organizations report an increase in revenues since the pandemic began.

Earned revenue (revenue generated by providing services) is the most significant area for a decrease in revenue, with individual giving and philanthropic grants also creating a reduction. A loss of funding partners and cancelled fundraising events leads to the need for innovation in business strategies.

Government funding is the only area where revenues are increasing, with two-fifths of organizations reporting increases. This is primarily due to the Federal and Provincial support programs that almost half of non-profits are utilizing, namely the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

Other solutions to offset revenue losses include drawing on reserve funds, selling assets, and reducing staffing.

Human Resources

Although the demand for non-profits has been increasing, staffing and volunteer numbers are not reflective of that growth. Many organizations have had to either reduce hours for employees or conduct layoffs.

To continue serving their communities – even with reduced funding and staffing levels – numerous non-profit leaders and teams have been making personal sacrifices, including working longer hours. This makes it difficult to maintain an appropriate work/life balance and avoid burnout.

Although most organizations are open and operating, countless have employees working remotely. This can create additional difficulties regarding successful program delivery.

In front-line organizations, staff face personal risks from interactions with clients. The possibility of COVID-19 exposure from their work affects their mental health, with self-care needing to be a priority.


With the pandemic’s effects on non-profit organization’s operations, revenue and staffing, it can be easy to forget about marketing. But even while operating on a reduced budget, promoting an organization and its message remains important. Learn more about how we can maximize your organization’s marketing budget by scheduling a consultation with us today.

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