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The Pandemic Squeeze On Nonprofits Limits Services For Most Needy

people loading boxes from a food bank into the back of a car
Julia Reihs/KUT
William Brown of Texas A&M's Center for Nonprofits says many people are in need of basic things like food, during the pandemic, but some organizations are struggling to meet those needs.

From Texas Standard:

One consequence of the pandemic has been added pressure on nonprofits to serve people in need. But many nonprofit organizations themselves are struggling to stay afloat amid a weak economy and threat of exposure to the coronavirus.

The Texas A&M Center for Nonprofits recently published a surveyabout the pandemic’s impact on nonprofits. William Brown is the center’s director. He told Texas Standard that nonprofit workers are worn out by this Catch-22, or seemingly no-win, situation.

“These organizations typically run pretty thinly; not a lot of extra reserves. You add to that the increased pressure of people needing these services and then the limited capacity to be able to deliver … it ends up being quite a difficult situation for them,” Brown said.

One major limitation is money. In a troubled economy, there’s less money flowing to nonprofits, and as a result, many have had to reduce staff and limit services.

The other limitation is safety. Brown says many organizations simply can’t do the same work as before since they can’t see people in person because of the virus.

“One of the other things that we saw pretty consistently is that you can’t get to the people that need the services because you’re trying to protect yourselves and you’re trying to protect them,” he said.

Brown says these limitations tend to affect the most needy and vulnerable: the elderly, those without transportation and those without internet access.

The survey also showed that organizations run by, and often serving, people of color are disproportionately affected by the squeeze on nonprofits.

Brown says as the Texas legislative session gets into full swing, lawmakers need to work with nonprofit leaders directly to help them find ways to stay afloat and serve their communities, as the pandemic wears on.

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Michael Marks
Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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