Blackbaud partnered with the social good community to uncover the effects and impact COVID-19 has had on nonprofits.

It may be an understatement to say that the last two years have been a period of unprecedented change for all of us. Wherever we looked, change was there. You may even argue that more has changed since early 2020 than in the last decade. And for many, it has been exhausting. 

Many social good organisations around the world have faced challenges and change related to COVID-19, including high demand on health and social services, charity closures (particularly in the arts and culture space), and the move to remote engagement across schools, faith, work and home.

Yet in the face of all this change, there was opportunity and innovation. We have seen first-hand how resilient and creative social good organisations can be. While things may still seem uncertain, social good professionals are hopeful and determined to accomplish their missions.

We’ve been reminded that change is constant and presents challenges that can be difficult to navigate, but success depends on attitude and perseverance. 

As we look at change being the ‘new normal’, social good professionals have already adapted and are seizing the opportunities it presents. But how has change impacted you and your peers since the COVID-19 outbreak? 

Blackbaud partnered with the social good community to uncover the effects and impact COVID-19 has had on organisations like yours, and we are excited to share our preliminary findings with you. 

More innovation than ever

Innovation was by far the predominant response to COVID-19. Of all those who responded, 92% witnessed increased innovation as a result of the pandemic. 

Leadership and teams had to pivot to keep funding and delivering the vital services the social good sector provides to our communities. 

Whilst Australia and New Zealand’s response to the pandemic differed from the rest of the world, one commonality was the increase in people’s generosity.

Many organisations and individuals dug (and are digging) deep to help those in need, and our survey confirms that this is indeed widespread across our region, with 55% of respondents outperforming 2019’s ‘normal’ revenue results, and 37% exceeding this pre-pandemic benchmark by over 5% (Graph 1).

Focused opportunities led to quicker growth

An interesting highlight was also the relationship between innovation opportunities and revenue growth. Whilst ample opportunities existed across respondents (Graph 2), it was those who focused on one or two key opportunities (44%, Graph 3) that experienced the best revenue outcomes. Our survey did not specifically cover focus versus spread when leveraging opportunities, but it is interesting to note that the trend was similar across those that had between 1-5% growth and those that experienced more than 5% growth; 1-2 opportunities were the focus.

Continued service delivery led to higher impact and outcomes

As we know, work in this sector is not all about fundraising and revenue. Service delivery has also been influenced by the pandemic. With only three exceptions, all organisations surveyed were able to continue to deliver some or all services. In many cases, organisations had to pivot in order to achieve these goals. 

Monitoring and evaluation results were also heartening to note. Program impact and outcomes were maintained or improved for the majority of respondents (Graph 4). Pleasingly, 53% of respondents saw improvements in this area compared to the pre-pandemic world. 

Final thought

Given the adversity and challenges presented by COVID-19, the survey outcomes are testimony to the resilience and strength of the people who work in and support the social good sector. You are amazing and we send a huge shout-out for all that you do.

The future is still a little unclear but, as we come out of lockdown, our hope is that the new skills, innovations, and adaptations will continue to improve outcomes for all those in our social good community. 

Gregory Dellas is the CRM and Managed Services Practice Manager at Blackbaud Pacific.

Discover more survey outcomes, including in-depth interviews with a number of organisations, by reading the full report, The Dynamics of Change. Download it at: https://hello.blackbaud.com.au/Dynamics-of-Change.html

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