It is no secret that 2020 had a profound impact on every aspect of life. Businesses were impacted in numerous ways from transitioning to a remote workforce overnight to facing supply chain issues. Nonprofit organizations faced many challenges, and yet they emerged from 2020 resilient.

Here are a few key takeaways we learned through our work with nonprofit organizations in 2020: 

  1. The need was great

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Massachusetts in February, many nonprofits faced unprecedented challenges. Human services organizations who hosted daily programs as part of their earned revenue were forced to bring them online via zoom. Homeless shelters and group homes were forced to depopulate and find alternative living accommodations. Food pantries saw an immediate increased need. Health care organizations needed funding for PPE and hazard pay. Public media saw its underwriting pipeline dry up overnight as small businesses slashed their marketing budgets. Immigrants rights organizations had to support a community with no other safety net. Museums were forced to close. School programs were brought online.

  1. Donors stepped up

Yet despite these challenges and the tireless work of nonprofit staff and volunteers, donors saw that need and stepped up. One nonprofit board came together to provide a significant bridge fund to carry the organization through the pandemic. Another organization created a unique fundraising campaign, raising $1.2 million, a number that exceeded its goal by 50%. Across organizations, when the ask was made, donors matched or exceeded goals.

  1. Virtual fundraisers were a success

Although a livestreamed gala or a virtual 5K pales in comparison to an in-person event, we found that nonprofits were successfully substituting their community events with virtual ones. As mentioned above, donors attended the events, paying full ticket price in some cases, bid on the silent auction items and exuded generosity with the fund-a-need appeals. Each organization had a different approach to their virtual fundraisers, but those whose events were authentic and true to the mission of the organization were the most memorable.

  1. There are needs beyond Covid-19

The urgent and increased needs brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic do not eliminate the needs the organizations were facing prior to the pandemic. Those needs remain ongoing and it’s important to remember that these organizations serve our communities in crucial ways, caring for our most vulnerable, screening for health conditions, supplying important information to the public, providing cultural and educational resources, among others. As we look ahead, we hope everyone remains committed to supporting nonprofit organizations with a renewed spirit beyond the pandemic.