IU Professor discusses COVID-19 impact on non profits, religious organizations

Coronavirus Watch

(WEHT) — Businesses have been struggling since the coronavirus pandemic began, but non-profit and religious organizations have also been hit hard in the past several weeks.

Brandon Bartlett talked to Matthew Baggettta, associate professor for the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, to discuss how these organizations have been impacted.

Transcription

Brandon Bartlett: Matthew, thanks for joining us tonight. Most businesses are facing challenges right now. But let’s talk about nonprofits and religious organizations, this must really be a tough time for them.
Matthew Baggetta: It is. These are organizations that that really thrive on the connection of people and people coming together on a regular basis. And in the absence of the ability to do that, many of these organizations are really either going into hibernation or having to sort of fundamentally reimagine the way that they go about their work.
Brandon Bartlett: Which specific organizations are being hardest hit right now?
Matthew Baggetta: There’s really a wide range. When you think about nonprofits and religious organizations, I mean, that includes things from art museums, and some hospitals to softball leagues. And so some of those organizations throughout that range are really having some trouble- those that are smallest, have the least amount of financial reserves that are built up that can carry them forward. Those are probably struggling the most- those that have lower name recognition, sort of big nonprofits, brand name organizations, those might be able to weather the storm for at least a bit longer, the smaller ones that really sort of live hand to mouth. They’re probably struggling quite a bit more.
Brandon Bartlett: Well, many of those organizations provide vital services to communities. Are many still able to offer their services?
Matthew Baggetta: Some of them are a lot of these organizations rely heavily on volunteer labor in order to get a lot of their services provided. And in the early going as social distancing was implemented, they had to scale way back. But many organizations are being innovative now, they’re finding new ways to reorganize how they do their work, how they can bring volunteers together safely at a safe distance with more protective equipment, and new protocols for doing their work to be able to execute. That said, it’s still, for many organizations, much, much harder than it used to be. And so they’re struggling to provide the services in the way that they have.
Brandon Bartlett: Do you see that many of these nonprofits will change after this pandemic is over?
Matthew Baggetta: It’s possible. If you think about many nonprofits as being small communities that bring people together, right now, they’re largely unable to do that, especially organizations that are based on membership, people who join and pay dues and come together at meetings. They’re gonna have to innovate right now, if they’re gonna make it through, using zoom meetings and other online digital technologies to connect. And it’s possible that coming out of this, they’ll continue to use those probably in tandem with their face to face activities that are really the core of what the organizations have always been.
Brandon Bartlett: Yeah. Are there any services available to help those organizations? And is there anything that we can do to help out?
Matthew Baggetta: Yeah, absolutely. So many of these organizations, much of their budget is driven by donations, and grants, philanthropic contributions, and occasionally, to some extent fees for services. For things like selling tickets, there’s really nothing that that an organization can do on that right now. But the CARES Act, the federal legislation providing financial relief, does include some stipulations for nonprofit organizations. And so organizations can try to apply for some of those for a little bit of guidance on that. There’s a nice website run by independent sector, which is an organization that provides services to nonprofits. So independentsector.org is a good resource for seeing how nonprofits can access some of the benefits available through the CARES act. There’s also many organizations that have the ability to make grants or making special grants available during the pandemic. For organizations affected by that there is a list of those available and growing at candid.org, it’s another organization providing information for nonprofit organizations. So I would suggest that organizations visit there to take a look at any grants that might apply to them. A third source of funding that that organizations can look for our community foundations in their local communities, donations may be flowing into there and then flowing back out to organizations that could use them.”

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