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Northern Illinois Nonprofit Survey provides update on local COVID-19 impact and recovery

November 18th, 2020, the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE) released the results of the Northern Illinois Nonprofit COVID-19 Impact and Recovery survey. Administered in late October 2020, this is the third in a series of surveys administered in 2020 to assess the continued impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit community and related recovery efforts. 108 full and partial responses were received from nonprofits from across northern Illinois representing a wide range of organization sizes and sub-sectors.

Overall, 97% of respondents have experienced an impact on their services due to the pandemic, with 73% cancelling some services and 61% offering limited or remote services. Subsequently, 57% of organizations reported an increase in demand for their services. Over 75% of organizations have experienced financial losses due to program interruption.

The survey included questions to assess organizations’ feelings of vulnerability. 81% of organizations reported feeling moderately to highly vulnerable, with 48% reporting significant financial vulnerability and 12% responding they are at risk of permanent closure. When asked about realized and financial losses, 77% of organizations reported experiencing financial losses as a direct result of COVID-19 with an average realized loss of $156,000 and a total average anticipated loss of $227,333.

Most respondents expressed significant uncertainty about their ability to offer uninterrupted programs or to hold or reschedule special events in the future. Although most reported applying for COVID-specific financial assistance, a significant portion also reported they did not qualify for available programs or that available funds were depleted. Without a significant shift in operational strategy and availability of new or additional assistance or supports, a third of respondents report they are unsure if they will survive or believe they will not survive.

This survey data will be utilized by the 815 Community Response Team (led by NICNE, and includes the Kjellstrom Family Foundation, United Way of Rock River Valley, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Transform Rockford, and The Workforce Connection) to guide ongoing efforts to support our local nonprofit community. The information will also be provided to elected officials and policy makers in an effort to advocate for the best interests of the nonprofit sector. As the COVID-19 crisis deepens the ability for nonprofits to continue to provide the services that our communities depend upon is vital.

These are unprecedented times for all nonprofits; Some have had to close their doors, while others have pivoted to provide virtual options. Most human service organizations continued to provide services during the COVID-19 crisis and 57% have experienced an increase in demand. “We have seen strength, grace, and a continued dedication to serve those in our community who are most vulnerable. Above all, nonprofits have been creative in their solutions to current circumstances. It is our hope that this survey will prove useful to policy makers, community leaders and philanthropists to help determine how to best support the nonprofit sector, to ensure that life-saving and life-enriching services will continue to be available for everyone who needs them, and that our vibrant nonprofit community can remain strong through – and beyond – this current crisis,” said Pam Clark Reidenbach, ED of NICNE.

A summary of survey findings may be viewed below, or download a PDF version.


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