Challenges for Nonprofit Organizations in 2022 (and Possible Silver Linings)
Here are three challenges for nonprofits in 2022 and beyond, along with some suggestions about how to face them.
Nonprofit organizations have faced a variety of setbacks and obstacles over the past 24 months. Anyone who runs a nonprofit or works at one will tell you that tumultuous politics, economic uncertainty, and (especially) the world-wide pandemic have presented severe challenges. The Associated Press reported that as of March 2021, one in three U.S. nonprofits were in danger of shutting down.
So, what's in store for 2022? Sadly, more of the same headaches, heartaches, and complications. However, for those nonprofits that are able to adapt and remain operational, there are opportunities to improve or at least survive. Here are three challenges for nonprofits in 2022 and beyond, along with some suggestions about how to face them.
1. Funding shortages.
Finding funding is a perennial challenge for nonprofit organizations under the best of circumstances. Things have grown much worse over the past two years, mainly due to the disruptive economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we go into a third year of pandemic measures, vaccinations, and variants, nonprofits will continue to struggle to raise money.
The silver lining: According to GivingUSA, charitable donations actually increased in 2020, and this development will likely be reflected in 2021 and 2022. Also, in December 2021, the Internal Revenue Service enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) to make it easier for U.S. taxpayers to deduct charitable donations. Under the CARES Act, most individuals can deduct up to $300 for donations made to bona-fide charities. Married couples filing jointly may be able to claim up to $600. Donations must be made by Dec. 31, and qualifying charities can be verified here: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search.
2. Restrictions on events and meetings.
Organizations whose mission it is to bring people together are now desperately trying to pursue their objectives without contributing to the pandemic or violating COVID-19 restrictions. According to an article published earlier this year by Bloomberg, while the pandemic's end may be in sight, it will likely extend into 2023, and the public will likely remain cagey about large gatherings for years to come. We will also likely encounter new surges and variants, some of which may be totally resistant to earlier vaccinations. In other words, for the next year, nonprofits can expect to operate amid the hampering and frustrating restrictions on coming together.
The silver lining: A recent article on the philanthropy blog Charity Village suggests that, if nonprofits can't get out, they can make the most of staying in. The article lists the following five suggestions for nonprofits who have been forced to cancel events for another year:
Re-evaluate your strategic plan. Pandemic downtime has us all deep-cleaning our kitchens, reading more books, and changing our ways. If you run a nonprofit, now's your chance to do the same: take advantage of the downtime to do the deep-cleaning, more-reading, and re-evaluating you always promised you'd do if you ever found the time. Pro-tip: A recent report by Duke University says we should expect more global pandemics within our lifetimes, so include what you've learned from this one to cope with them in the future.
Make sure your website is navigable. Again, this is something you can do with your downtime, but it's also an imperative for volunteers, supporters, and those you serve, who must rely more on your online resources.
Conduct a technology audit. With workers and volunteers at home, now's a good time to evaluate your IT infrastructure. Upgrade your clunky old workstations, throw out or repurpose old tech, and research the possibilities of new and emerging tools. We hope it's okay to mention that if you're in the market for tools for surveys, data collection, and feedback, Pulse For Good would love to hear from you.
Plan virtual engagement activities. Yes, "Zoom fatigue" became a thing in 2020 and many of us suffer from chronic cases of it now, but the fact remains that in some cases, online events are better than no event at all.
Clean up your nonprofit data. Also under the heading of organizational "deep-cleaning," Charity Village suggests that nonprofits use downtime to clean up the organization's data. In a way, every nonprofit's operations center around its internal data. Everything the nonprofit knows and wants to do with respect to supporters, volunteers, clients, and programs is sitting somewhere in a dataset. And like all other organizations, those datasets are full of voids, errors, and unneeded info.
3. Volunteer shortages.
According to the New York Times, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, two thirds of active volunteers dramatically reduced their volunteer efforts or quit entirely. Meals on Wheels, for example, lost half of its 2 million volunteers in 2020. Finding volunteers will certainly continue to be difficult through 2022, especially among older volunteers who are in COVID-19 high-risk groups or are simply fearful of contracting the virus.
The silver lining: With fewer in-person volunteer operations and more down-time, the pandemic gives nonprofits a chance to improve their volunteer forces. But first, stay in touch. Even without upcoming events or programs, don't allow your volunteers to forget that they are appreciated and needed. Second, provide training--now is a time that volunteers can convert their "doing" efforts to "learning" efforts. Make sure as many as possible are trained in as many programs as possible. Finally, find ways for your volunteers to help without aggravating the pandemic. This can include online work and activities volunteers can do alone.