August 4, 2021

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‘Virtual Fundraisers Are Not Cutting It:’ Arizona Nonprofits Plead For Help

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Hundreds of nonprofits across Arizona reported crippling effects from the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: 2,100 layoffs, 73,400 volunteers and more than $91 million in lost revenue, according to a new report from the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.

“The findings of the survey were only surprising in terms of the magnitude of the losses, as we know that the capacity of nonprofits across the state has been crushed due to the impact of this pandemic,” said Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits CEO Kristen Merrifield.

Of the 412 responding nonprofits, 52% reported a decrease in their year-end fundraising efforts; of those, more than 60% reported a decrease between 11% and 50%.

The dramatic revenue losses corresponded with a broad closure of physical locations — 74% of nonprofits closed for at least a period of time, and 43% remain closed indefinitely. Revenue losses were most apparent with arts & culture organizations, with the average loss exceeding $750,000 per nonprofit. The average health & human services nonprofit saw a loss of nearly $600,000.

Corporate giving was down across the board by more than 65%, while individual giving was down 55%.

When asked what was needed to stay afloat, a resounding 81% of nonprofits said unrestricted funding.

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The report includes anonymized quotes from nonprofit respondents, many of whom used stark language to express the seriousness of the circumstances

“Virtual fundraisers are not cutting it,” one respondent wrote. “We need to increase donations.”

“Our primary streams of revenue have been completely severed due to COVID-19,” another respondent wrote. “While we have been able to shift to virtual events and experiences, we are still in need of assistance to pay for program expenses and the administrative costs of our organization.”

The Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits pointed to its upcoming giving day in early April as a possible make-or-break moment for many of the organizations in the report.

“The good news is that most Arizona nonprofits have proven to be nimble and have adapted as necessary by strategically building alliances with other organizations, changing programs either to 100 percent virtual or adjusting for social distancing, and rethinking the ways they have worked in the past,” Merrifield said. “That being said, it’s clear that organizations will need further assistance to get through the end of the pandemic and that’s what makes this year’s Arizona Gives Day on April 6 so vital.”

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