COVID-19 Impact on Montana Nonprofits :: 434 Responses to MNA’s Flash Poll

March 20, 2020 / Comments Off on COVID-19 Impact on Montana Nonprofits :: 434 Responses to MNA’s Flash Poll

Blog Featured MNA News Nonprofits in the News Resource News


In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are asking “what do nonprofits need?”  On March 17, 2020, in order to ascertain the impact that COVID-19 is having on the Montana nonprofit sector, Montana Nonprofit Association invited member organizations to respond to a brief a flash poll. MNA received an unprecedented response: 434 nonprofit professionals responded in less than three days.


Key Findings


Montana nonprofit organizations are already feeling the impact of COVID-19

  • Almost all (97 percent) of Montana nonprofits answered yes to the question, “Has your organization been impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, or do you expect it to be impacted?”
  • Top concerns for families include rent/mortgage relief and the closure of childcare
  • The top three short-term impacts to nonprofit organizations are: cancellation of programs/events and corresponding reduced revenue (85 percent); disruption of services to clients and communities (72 percent); and budgetary implications related to strains on the economy (59 percent). Longer-term, nonprofit organizations are uncertain how they – or if they – can recover from the economic and social impact of COVID-19.
  • Nonprofit organizations described impacts ranging from struggling to provide services to clients while minimizing health risks for clients and staff; requests to expand services to meet the needs of first responders and healthcare workers; the need to develop new ways to serve hard-to-reach clients when the office is closed to the public; and concern about the long-term consequences to the sector as a whole as the economy suffers through the pandemic.

“We provide in-home care services to vulnerable senior citizens and are minimizing their risks by providing necessary services such as medication setup, bathing and grocery shopping if they do not have family members.” – Montana nonprofit organization

Organizational Impact
Organizational Impact

Montana nonprofit organizations are already experiencing a DECREASE in revenue related to the coronavirus

  • Montana nonprofits utilize diverse funding streams to meet their mission. These include private donations, fee for services, revenue-generating programs and events, memberships, grants, sponsorships and public-private ventures such as storefronts.
  • Montana nonprofits are reporting immediate and significant impacts that include cancelled programs and events resulting in losses ranging from $500 to $50,000 per event; membership cancellations; and major donor reversals of pledged donations.
  • An astounding range of impacts based on how long the pandemic lasts include a 40 percent of revenue for one nonprofit should the crisis last into the summer to tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales, grants, donations and community events in the very near future.

We will lose . . .

  • 70% of monthly revenue (annual revenue =$1,100,000
  • Potential $65,000/month if we have to close our day program
  • 90% while we’re shut down
  • Really no idea. . . Depends on donors, but I would guess $350,000 out of a budget of $1 million
  • at least 75% decrease. I am in the tourism industry. 

“…difficult to estimate increased cost because of the uncertainty in the length of time. I’ve asked my two pastime employees to telework. They a little or no other income and they have little PTO. Additional cost could include paying for their internet service, advanced PTO, cost of subscriptions to meet online, etc.” – Montana nonprofit organization

Severity of Impacts

While is it still too early to tell the whole story, some Montana nonprofits are anticipating an INCREASE in expenses related to the coronavirus

  • Despite losses in revenue, Montana nonprofits are striving to maintain staff and continue to provide services to clients in need.
  • Unexpected expenses arising in the next few weeks include purchasing sanitation equipment, computers and technical support for remote workforce.

Montana nonprofit organizations are stepping up to do their part to help prevent the spread of coronavirus

  • The majority of nonprofits are making appropriate adjustments to operations, including rescheduling or cancelling programs and events (92 percent); staying informed via news and trusted websites (91 percent); encouraging proper hygiene (88 percent); and asking employees who feel sick to stay home (84 percent).
  • In addition, many nonprofits are pivoting to meet clients’ new needs, such as providing sanitation supplies; connecting clients to additional resources in the community; screening incoming clients for exposure; and participating in community and statewide disaster efforts.

“We are responding to the outbreak by developing and distributing resources related to the legal implications for people as a result of COVID-19. For example, access to the courts, public benefits, and evictions.” – Montana nonprofit organization


Montana nonprofit organizations are turning to Montana Nonprofit Association for guidance and support to help them with:

  • Immediate emergency strategic planning and budgeting
  • Provide legal guidance on human resources
  • Stay informed on state and national policies
  • Advocate at the state and federal levels for action to support the nonprofit sector
  • Work with funders to help address immediate and long-term consequences of COVID-19
  • Support the move to more on-line operations
  • Connect nonprofit leaders with one another to gain peer support during this time

Funders can support their Montana nonprofit partners by:

  • Establishing short-term bridge funds to cover operating expenses
  • Immediate funds for front-line relief – mortgage or rental payments for staff members
  • Advocacy, including state and federal policies that support working families and clients, such as unemployment insurance, TANF, food stamps and eviction protections – expand eligibility requirements/relax restrictions. In addition, any policies that bring relief to the business sector (such as low-interest loans) are extended to and accommodate the nonprofit sector.
  • Allowing flexibility in current grant programs, such as relaxing upcoming timelines for grant applications and reporting deadlines and ensuring current grantees that budget adjustments are expected and welcomed, such as enabling current grantees to refocus funds to general operating expenses.

“How do we, as a nonprofit community, act in solidarity to protect organizations that will be hardest hit by this without sacrificing sustainability (but maybe sacrificing growth?)?” – Montana nonprofit organization


Survey summary provided by Halliday & Associates.