August 25, 2020
State of Indiana’s Nonprofits: Survey Reveals How Organizations Are Coping in 2020
by Shari Finnell, editor, Charitable Advisors

Nearly six months have passed since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Indiana. Since that time, the majority of the state’s nonprofits have faced significant challenges in maintaining services to support their missions, according to Indiana Nonprofits and COVID-19: Impact on Services, Finances and Staffing, a new report released by the Indiana United Ways and the Indiana Nonprofit Sector Project.

Of the 512 nonprofit organizations responding to a survey, 71 percent reported major revenue shortfalls since March 1 due to the pandemic; 60  percent reported suspending or ending programs; 67 percent cancelled a fundraising event; and 23 percent had laid off or furloughed staff. While the percentage of nonprofits reporting staff layoffs and furloughs was relatively low compared to other metrics, 43 percent reported greater demands on existing staff because of an absence of volunteers.

Report co-author Kirsten Grønbjerg, director of the Indiana Nonprofit Sector Project, Distinguished Professor at O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington, said the results were surprising because of the extent of the impact across a significant number of nonprofits. “I don’t think we have ever seen this kind of widespread impact before,” Grønbjerg said. “It’s drastic and intense.”

With previous economic downturns, Grønbjerg said, a portion of nonprofit organizations may  have been impacted because of declining revenue. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has left few nonprofits spared, except those that provide essential services.

“Our findings point to an increased need for services that the pandemic itself created. I think the safety net nonprofits play for the community took a beating. How well they’re going to recover is the big question,” she said. “The CARES Act has been an important component in allowing them to continue to operate.” About half of the nonprofit organizations surveyed received loans under the Payroll Protection Plan under the CARES Act.

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The Nonprofit Board Chair’s Role in Building Organizational Resiliency
By Erin Hedges, owner of Hedges

As COVID-19 continues to change everything in our world and our communities, nonprofit organizations have stepped up to fill in the gaps and meet the needs of those who have been impacted. During the early stages of the pandemic, many nonprofit organizations were able to secure Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans and receive generous donations from individual donors and philanthropic institutions. These economic boosts enabled nonprofit organizations to increase and expand services to meet the urgent needs in our communities as the pandemic unfolded.

As PPP funding runs out, and donor fatigue settles in, concerns are increasing about the resiliency of nonprofit organizations as they navigate the challenge of fulfilling their missions with such little certainty on the horizon. Strong leadership and strategic thinking at the executive and board levels have never been more important as nonprofits not only strive to sustain through this time, but also build resiliency for the future.

At Hedges, we describe resiliency as an organization’s ability to weather crisis, sharpen focus, adapt to changes in the landscape, and emerge with the capacity to have even greater impact. We believe the responsibility of building resiliency ultimately lies with the board of directors in partnership with executive leadership.

The board chair is central to nonprofit resiliency and has a unique role in leading and influencing others through the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, many are unsure of how and where to focus energies among so many priorities. Here are four areas where board chairs can lead, engage and hold fellow members accountable, and foster organizational resiliency:

The Indianapolis Opera has named Lyndsay Moy as education and community engagement coordinator. Moy, an alumna of the Indianapolis Opera Resident Artist program, has worked as opera administrator for the Cleveland Institute of Music. — Inside Indiana Business
Christian Theological Seminary has hired Ayanna Garrett as associate dean of student life. Garrett previously served as associate director of recruitment at Chicago Theological Seminary, where she worked for more than seven years. — Inside Indiana Business
Indiana Donor Network has named Elliott Stubblefield as multicultural community development coordinator. Stubblefield previously served as the Indiana district director for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. — Indiana Journal of Business
The NCAA has named Derrick Gragg senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement. Gragg, who currently serves as vice president and director of athletics at the University of Tulsa, starts the new position in October. — Inside Indiana Business
The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust has granted $75,000 to Visually Impaired Preschool Services to support the nonprofit agency’s efforts to provide critical early intervention services to young children in Central Indiana who are blind or visually impaired. Learn more

A collaborative endowment-building initiative, which includes 13 Jewish organizations and congregations, recently reached $1 billion in legacy commitments, including $32 million in Indianapolis. The Jewish Federation’s and Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY initiative provides future financial stability to support the community. Learn more

Clothing with a Cause, a Carmel clothing store created with a focus on charities, donates its proceeds to various charities. During the month of August, donations are earmarked for Paws and Think, a nonprofit that helps people through pet therapy. Learn more

Youth Connections has requested donations of furniture for its expanded office space, including chairs. a round conference table that seats 8 to 12 people, white boards, training tables and stacking chairs. To donate, contact Judy Olds or call 317-738-3273.

COVID-19 awards

ProAct Indy has used a $35,000 COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund from United Way of Central Indiana to retrofit its 28-passenger bus. The bus has been converted into a mobile food pantry to address the community’s needs around food insecurity.
Not quite a merger: An odd nonprofit partnership blooms. Two arts organizations based in St. Paul, Minn., have developed a model for how nonprofits can combine forces. SteppingStone Theater has moved into the space owned by Park Square Theater. Both will share an executive director for their operations.
What the fate of commercial real estate may mean for nonprofits?  With the space needs of nonprofits changing, commercial real estate may be facing a disruption in 2020 and beyond. How are nonprofits dealing with having too much space as they adapt to operating in a virtual environment?
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