How COVID-19 could transform non-profits: The Conversation

The pandemic has been far from easy for non-profit organizations, especially those providing critically important social services.

But as this piece from The Conversation points out, our organizations’ ability to respond, pivot and even expand our services during such a time certainly did highlight the power and creativity of our sector. We’ve always known we are amazing, but we’ve demonstrated that to our funders in a new way through our collective response to the limitations caused by COVID-19 measures to ensure that our clients continued to receive vital services.

“It’s interesting that during a time of heightened stress and confusion, many funding partners looked within and found that they trusted the non-profits they were funding, transforming a traditionally paternalistic funding relationship,” write the authors of this piece, who are professors at McMasters University.

“What remains to be seen is whether these changes are temporary, or whether they open the door for reimagining funding relationships.”

The authors share some thoughts for a reimagined relationship between funders and non-profits that significantly align with what the sector has been saying for years: Yes, we do great work that really matters, and we could do it so much better with stable funding and more realistic support for administrative costs.

“As non-profits navigate through COVID-19, funding partners should seek a new balance. They can do this by releasing some control and shifting from short-term funding designated for specific projects to long-term unrestricted funding aimed at building non-profit capacity,” notes the article.

“Second, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of capabilities and capacity — human resources, information technology and even extra staff and resources, all expenses that have traditionally been generally discouraged by funding organizations. Yet to build capacity for resilience, non-profits must be permitted and encouraged to build this capacity.”

Hear, hear!