Non-profits at risk because of pandemic, survey finds

A recent Ontario Non-profit Network survey revealed the pandemic has had a devastating impact on nonprofits and charities.
Employees work at Pillar Nonprofit Network, located at Innovation Works in London, Ont. (Supplied by Michelle Baldwin)

Three months into the COVID-19 crisis, non-profits and charities face new challenges and more uncertainty. 

And a recent Ontario Non-profit Network (ONN) survey suggests the pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on non-profits and charities, including those in London. 

The ONN report expands on what's pushing some of Ontario's 58,000 non-profits to close, including declining donations, the inability to hold their usual fundraisers, and new costs for things like PPE and the technology needed to work from home. 

The survey showed one in five of the survey's 1,100 respondents may have to shut down by the end of December. Another quarter said that 2021 will likely be a greater financial struggle than this year.

"There's heaviness and a sense of grief and loss that is happening. We ask ourselves, 'Imagine a community without arts organizations, sports organizations, all of the community's social service supports that exist in our community,'" said Michelle Baldwin, chair of the ONN and executive director of Pillar Network in London. 

Many non-profits provide services to those most impacted by the pandemic. Without them, Baldwin says, many vulnerable people are put at risk. 

In need of a collaborative approach

Baldwin said a collaborative approach is needed or people could slip through the cracks.

This could lead to an increase in systemic issues such as poverty and addiction, which London has long grappled with, she added.

Michelle Baldwin, head of Innovation Works in London, Ontario. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

"We can start to collaborate now and find a solution and be proactive rather than reactive. We know that collaboration is at the heart, that's already been rising up in this moment. We've seen it and we know that it's possible."

The pandemic has impacted non-profits large and small, Baldwin said, but many don't qualify for government subsidies that help businesses during this time. 

"We're facing a crisis in this moment both related to COVID and all the work that's rising up related to anti-racism and anti-oppression," Baldwin said. 

Non-profits are also employers, and contribute to the economy, she said. 

"Often people think about non-profits as providing a social impact. I think this is showing that once again we're forgetting the economic impact that is provided. "