Not-for-profits in Australia one year on from the pandemic

Not-for-profits in Australia are coming under intense pressure a year on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with 52% reporting more demand for services, and the majority suffering a slump in volunteers and donations.

Denis Moriarty from Our Community says the immense pressure meant it was time for governments to do more to support the sector: “A trilogy of terror is threatening the Australian community sector, which is facing increased demand for services, a reduction in donations and a catastrophic collapse in volunteering. The only thing that will save Australia’s 600,000 community groups will be Australians’ continued faith in them, and a bloody big investment by government to ensure the sector can invest in technology and reskill its workforce. We need a major industry plan for the future.”

Community awareness of the sector’s work rises, and Australians indicate a willingness to help, with 37% saying they will give more time and money in the year ahead.

The COVID-19 Community Sector Impact Survey surveyed 907 NFP representatives and 1,027 members of the public to examine the impact of the pandemic on the sector.

Top challenges

  • Demand for not-for-profit services is up
  • Volunteering has been severely disrupted with no signs of an early recovery
  • Fundraising remains down, with some glimmers of hope
  • A bounce-back in staffing should be expected
  • Organisations are investing more in training and digital technology
  • Not-for-profits are more optimistic now than they were 12 months ago
  • There’s greater community awareness of the work of not-for-profits
  • Some groups have responded to the pandemic by diversifying revenue
  • There is a renewed focus on governance and strategic planning

Fundraising turns the corner but money is still tight

Although the worst predictions for fundraising haven’t come to pass, the picture is still grim for many, with more than one in two organisations reporting a funding downturn, and many losing at least half of their fundraising income. With the defunct JobKeeper scheme no longer providing a lifeline, it’s at least encouraging to see that 37% of Australians who support not-for-profits plan to donate more this year.

Technology is part of the solution

Another trend in the report is the boost to the reliance on technology in the sector. Nearly three quarters of all groups (74%) increased their use of tech in the past year, with nearly two-thirds  (64%) planning to do more in the year ahead.

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