Crummer’s Edyth Bush Institute Helping Nonprofits Pivot, Innovate to Survive Pandemic

Institute’s pandemic assessment finds that over two-thirds of nonprofits surveyed only have up to six months of operating capacity.

The data is clear: nonprofits need to adapt, adjust, and innovate if they want to continue to fulfill their mission for our community.

Just like any other business in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the nonprofit sector is feeling the effects of the ongoing pandemic just as bad, if not worse.

“Nonprofits are a critical component of any region’s infrastructure,” said Deborah Crown, Dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business. “They provide access to the essential services and assistance people rely on, particularly in challenging times like during our current pandemic. The Edyth Bush Institute at the Crummer Graduate School of Business is doing what it can to address the current needs of these organizations.”

The Edyth Bush Institute has pivoted, not only moving all events into a virtual, synchronous environment, but also adapting their programming.

They are hosting popular “timely talks” open to all nonprofits as a chance to congregate and discuss action step-by-step.

“We will continue to do those for as long as it is necessary to ensure the health of the Central Florida nonprofit community,” said Min Sum Kim, assistant director of the Edyth Bush Institute.

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They’ve also increased their custom programming, with a slate of events coming this summer.

Just recently, they hosted Theory of Change with Mark Brewer, President/CEO of the Central Florida Foundation. In this workshop, nonprofits received a “full briefing on how to create a theory of change and a discussion on the ‘reboot’ of the independent sector.”

Other events in June include Finding Grant Funding and Creating an Actionable Marketing Plan for your Nonprofit. Each will assist nonprofits in navigating this new normal.

Assessment Survey Illustrates Threat to Nonprofits

Most of the typical fundraising events that organizations rely upon, such as walkathons and charity dinners, are unable to happen due to COVID-19.

As part of their mission to support nonprofit and philanthropic organizations through education and management assistance, the Edyth Bush Institute has always provided community assessments when disaster occurs. The Institute commissioned its Unified Community Assessment for Central Florida Nonprofits in mid-April to gauge the health of the nonprofit community in light of the new pandemic.

This assessment reached out to nearly 300 nonprofits across the seven-county area of Central Florida.

The results were alarming:

• Fundraising is expected to decline between $48 to $54 million.
• 80% of nonprofits have been negatively impacted financially.
• 68% of nonprofits have up to six months of operating capacity, with 32% have two months or less.
• 69% of respondents had to cancel a fundraising event.

“When there is stress, it shows your weaknesses and usually your weakness is cash and you don’t have enough money to fulfill your mission,” said Gary Blanchette, executive director of the Edyth Bush Institute.

With nonprofits so reliant on volunteer efforts, the pandemic has also affected the number of volunteers willing to donate their time.

“Not only have we seen the cash stop, but we’ve seen the volunteers stop,” said Blanchette.

Strategy is Key

In a turbulent time like this, the Edyth Bush Institute team reiterates that having a strategy is necessary if nonprofits want to continue operating.

While nearly all respondents in the survey said that they plan to seek funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the CARES Act, the Edyth Bush Institute team stresses they cannot be reliant on that.

“In a few months we may have another concern on how nonprofits deal with cash flow, operations and forward movement, because some of the benefits they’ve had to date may be gone by October or November,” said Jim Moody, program manager at the Edyth Bush Institute.

That’s why the team continues to host workshops and timely talks in virtual, synchronous environments, to help nonprofits come up with action plans to address how they can continue to raise money despite the challenges.