A team of University of New Orleans researchers, led by political science professor Steve Mumford, has produced a study on the state of nonprofits in southeastern Louisiana that shows many organizations have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, while struggling to continue to provide services to the public.
“We as a society need to better recognize the essential role nonprofits play in many spheres of life. The pandemic has highlighted that fact like so many other disparities,” Mumford said. “At this time, nonprofits—especially those continuing to provide direct services to our communities—are hit twice: once by the surge in demand for their services as people are struggling across the board; and secondly, in terms of finances, as operational costs went up for them at the same time that revenues and donations quickly decrease.”
The “Study on the State of Nonprofits in Southeast Louisiana Amidst COVID-19” was released June 8. It was commissioned by the Greater New Orleans Foundation as a part of its comprehensive response effort to help nonprofits, philanthropy and civic organizations better understand the impact the pandemic has had on the critical nonprofit sector.
“This study shows that 43% of nonprofits in our region are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly three-quarters of them have been impacted financially from canceled fundraisers to interruptions in their fee-for-service programming,” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “As we work our way through this crisis, GNOF believes that maintaining a strong and robust nonprofit sector is critical to our region’s future.
“Our region depends on nonprofits for over 55,000 jobs, as well as for their work addressing urgent needs from health care to homelessness to food security, for educating out-of-school young people, taking care of seniors and providing cultural opportunities that give us inspiration and joy.”
Mumford currently works with the Greater New Orleans Foundation to provide training and coaching in program evaluation to nonprofits throughout the region. He said many of the nonprofits provide essential services, “basically as an arm, or in place, of government.”
“The sector is also incredibly diverse: it includes human service agencies of all kinds, but also arts and culture organizations, community-led advocacy groups, and so on,” Mumford said. “Just think of all the festivals and events canceled in our region this spring—that was critical revenue for our nonprofits to survive.”
Nonprofits employ 12% of the workforce in the New Orleans metro area, Mumford said. Despite the crucial role the organizations play in providing a social safety net, advocating for the region’s most vulnerable residents and enriching our culture, their employees are at risk of losing their jobs and are losing pay, Mumford said.
“Nonprofits need donations for sure and consistently over time. But, they also need more support and trust from government and foundation funders, and more people to lend voices to their causes,” Mumford said. “Hopefully this report helps spark some of that interest and awareness.”
The full study is available here.
Mumford applauded his research team—graduate assistant DeVante Starks and three undergraduate Tolmas Scholars funded through UNO’s Office of Research—Kielee Clement, Ariane Dent and Mckenzie Howell—for helping produce the study.
“This was a collective effort that really showcases the depth of our talent at UNO, and our ability to contribute to our community through expertise,” Mumford said.