NEW LEXINGTON — It is no secret that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected businesses large and small as sources of funding and revenue have been hindered. In Appalachia Ohio, the effects can also be felt by some of the nonprofits, some of which are located in Perry County.
In the region, nonprofits and other types of philanthropic community organizations worked pre-pandemic to help those in the area. The added challenge in today's new normal has been to continue to serve with fewer dollars available to implement philanthropic missions.
In order to understand the scope of the effects, a survey was done examining how nonprofits have been operating during this time.
According to Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) Communications Specialist Daniel Kington, 19 of the 92 Appalachian Ohio nonprofits respondents serve in Perry County. He added that many of the 19 may be based in the county.
According to the FAO, a number of foundations serving in the southeast region began to partner together in order to identify where the greatest gaps are and will be in terms of the longevity of the pandemic.
The Athens County Foundation, the FAO, Osteopathic Heritage Foundations, Sisters Health Foundation and the Cincinnati Office of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland started to devote resources in emergency response independently. The group of organizations also launched a survey of nonprofits to better comprehend some of the most pressing matters some nonprofits are experiencing and what they will experience later.
Broadband access was one of the most pressing issues plaguing the nonprofits, something that many who live in the region already experience. According to the FAO, the scarcity of internet access affected services in education, health and business operations.
The survey highlighted that Appalachian Ohio’s nonprofit communities were often challenged by the sudden transition of services to online outlets due to their clients not having access themselves. Of the nonprofits, 53 percent reported that the lack of client access to the internet was a hindrance to work in the current environment.
Of the nonprofits who participated, those who serve youth populations reported the biggest drop in being able to continue services with 68 percent stating that they had to suspend services based on the current climate.
“This has left many young people in Appalachian Ohio without the support they need,” wrote the FAO.
Another hindrance of the pandemic came in the form of fragile funding streams. According to the FAO, almost 90 percent of nonprofits responding said that the amount of “operating reserves” left in their organizations would last less than a year.
In the age of social distancing, many fundraising events were the victims of unprecedented cancelations or were slowed during the pandemic. This is causing reserves to be stretched thin, according to the FAO, with needs for services still being present.
The FAO stated that another survey would be conducted later this summer to see where a shift in need or opportunity has changed for nonprofits.