Why Foundations Like Mine Need to Give More to Stave Off the Collapse of Vital Nonprofits
During the coronavirus pandemic, government leaders and the news media have focused their attention on the economic struggles facing business. But America’s nonprofits are in the gravest danger. Organizations that help feed the hungry, fight for social justice, tend to the sick, and enrich our lives through arts and education will be irreparably harmed without urgent action from government, business, and philanthropy.
An astonishing 75 percent of nonprofits surveyed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund do not have six months of cash reserves. In the wake of canceled fundraising events, postponed programs, and lost revenue, nonprofit leaders are taking drastic action to cut costs to save their organizations. Furloughs, layoffs, and terminations are hitting nonprofits hard. One executive director called me recently in tears to share the news that she and her board had decided to close their doors. Many more are on the brink of doing the same.
If we fail to act, the economic toll will be devastating. Nonprofits employ more than 10 percent of the private workforce in the United States, some 12.3 million people at last count, according to the 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report from Johns Hopkins University.
In addition to economic harm, the loss of nonprofits would deprive all Americans of a platform we depend on to build a more vibrant and just nation. Throughout American history, social progress has been made possible by civil society — by people joining together to fight for the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. As the United States faces the most profound racial-justice crisis since the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, the loss of these institutions would result in a retrenchment of our public life and a profound weakening of our democratic republic. How, then, do we meet this challenge?
Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy