Surveys! They’re often mocked by Internet memes and GIFs as desperate attempts to verify customer satisfaction. But, if you’ve ever worked with Envision, then you know that they are also an INCREDIBLE tool helping organizations to collect the data they need to make critical decisions. (Which reminds us, did you fill out your US Census report yet?)
As you know, Envision works with hundreds of nonprofit organizations around the country, which gives us a broad perspective on how the changing times are impacting the industry as a whole. So yes, we asked our clients and friends to fill out a survey (download the report here) telling us how they’re dealing with the shifting demand for program delivery, budget impacts, and sustainability concerns. And how they’re preparing for the future.
Here is some of what we heard back:
47% of nonprofits saw an increase in demand for services.
Given the increase in hardships that the pandemic has put on so many people and families, it is no surprise that our friends at Westside Food Bank found that their demand doubled in mid-March, when tens of thousands of households became food insecure, and according to the Brookings Institute, those numbers aren’t going to get any better in the next decade. As a response, Deputy Director, Genevieve Riutort, says that WFB has committed to doubling their large-scale food purchases this fiscal year. Riutort gives credit to the fantastic foundation community who has provided additional grants and loosened restrictions to ease the funding process, and to her dedicated donor base, saying, “people who could step up and give more, did.”
69% of nonprofits received the PPP loan.
This was critical support for many nonprofits, especially for organizations serving the developmentally disabled community. With understandable absences and added expenses, the PPP helped these organizations keep as much staff as possible on the payroll like our friends at Pediatric Therapy Network. PTN was already incorporating telehealth into their services so when the stay-at-home order hit, they transitioned everything instantly. Not only did they avoid any and all furloughs, but the pride in being able to do so helped to maintain camaraderie and morale.
40% of nonprofits saw an increase in NEW donors!
Since 2016, our client EmbraceRace has been providing training, curriculum and support for parents and caregivers to teach children and communities about race in the pursuit for equity. Following the killing of George Floyd and racial justice protests this summer, EmbraceRace experienced a significant increase in website traffic, social media exposure, and donations from companies and individuals. Most of these donors were new to EmbraceRace, which allowed them to reach new audiences with their programs and deepen their base of support nationwide. All nonprofits should be ready for these types of opportunities by maintaining an updated website, accepting online donations (and making the “donate” option easy to access!), quickly responding to inquiries from potential supporters, and preparing to answer the question: “How would you use this donation?”
35% of nonprofits have done a virtual fundraising event.
Our friends at Airport Marina Counseling Service transitioned their gala online this past May. Local weatherman and frequent emcee, Fritz Coleman, guided over 100 participants through a ceremony honoring award recipients. The most successful part of the evening, according to AMCS Development Director, Bill Morgan, was the decision to put people at “tables” of 5 to 30 people, that became breakout rooms on Zoom, giving people a chance to connect and have a break from isolation. The most surprising thing about the event? “That it did so well financially,” said Morgan. AMCS surpassed their fundraising goal, raising over $300,000 from the event, which Morgan also said wouldn’t have been possible without their virtual event planner. (Hint, hint… get one!)
49% of survey respondents stated they started new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
EXP, an organization that delivers innovative, career-based curriculum in partnership with schools, prioritized DEI as a goal in their 2019-2024 strategic plan. This year, EXP maintained their focus on DEI, even as they shifted to virtual delivery of their programs and managed other pandemic-related challenges, and they also pushed to deepen that commitment. They closely followed barriers to students participating in their programs, such as technology access, and worked with partners to address them. They planned an event for young men of color, which will take place remotely in spring 2021. They also stepped up board leadership on DEI priorities and are working toward a regular cadence of board and staff training and engagement on these issues.
98% of organizations have changed the way they deliver programs since March 2020.
The Museum of Ventura County entered our COVID-19 era as a completely site-based institution. Then in mid-March, a Museum volunteer discovered a photo in the archives of a luxurious bath house in Ventura that was scheduled for a lavish grand opening in 1918 - until the influenza pandemic put life on hold for months. This quirky bit of local history inspired the team to get creative with the many assets of the Museum and find new ways to be relevant to the public. The Museum pivoted to digital content delivery, and participation soared through social media, virtual events, online exhibits and more. Even when the Museum re-opens in the future, they plan to continue aspects of virtual programming. For many organizations, we've heard that increased reach and engagement are "silver linings" of the dramatic shift to remote programs and services.
So, next time you get pestered to fill out a survey, go ahead and roll your eyes. But then consider taking a few minutes to fill it out. You never know whom or what your answers will help inform or inspire.