Silver Linings

South Carolina nonprofit leaders still facing 

financial challenges and reduced staff, 

find silver linings a year into the pandemic




COLUMBIA — Last September, according to a survey coordinated by Together SC, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of nonprofits surveyed indicated they could survive six months or less without additional funding.

In March of this year, the percentage of those with the same answer about sustainability has only dropped slightly to 59 percent. Our state’s nonprofit organizations are still in need, despite their efforts to find silver linings from the pandemic.

As the pandemic and its impacts extend into 2021, Together SC, the state’s network of nonprofit organizations, with investors and supporters (listed below), aim to give voice to our state’s nonprofit businesses and the conditions under which they expect to operate by producing a second survey, conducted by Kahle Strategic Insights. The top-line survey findings convey the status of South Carolina’s nonprofit organizations one year into the COVID-19 health crisis.

The findings come from nearly 1,000 respondents, including those working in human services; arts, culture, and humanities; education; health; public/social benefit; religion; and, environment/animal welfare.

The data strongly suggests that Federal financial assistance, like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the state’s (and Greenville County’s) CARES Act-funded grant program, helped many nonprofits, but only for a period of time. As 45% of nonprofit respondents that received PPP loans still faced fiscal year operating losses.

“Hearing from so many leaders, nearly a quarter of those surveyed, gives great credence to the survey’s findings that nonprofits are still struggling. These insights will help inform our partners and state and local government about the degree of continuing need within the nonprofit industry. It is our aim to ensure that key community organizations across the state can continue to serve the people of South Carolina as we move into the summer and beyond.” said Madeleine McGee, president of Together SC.

Top line results detail the significant need still existing in the nonprofit industry, and the vital role of public and private sector support.

Key Findings Revealed by Responding Nonprofits:

-- Two-thirds (63 percent) of nonprofit respondents to the Fall survey indicated they could only survive for six months or less without additional funding. With aid from the State and others, that percentage has dropped slightly to 59 percent.

-- There’s been no change in the percent of those who reported being out of funds, still 5 percent of respondents.

-- Cash, in support of programs and operations, is the single biggest need for these nonprofit organizations as they look to continue to operate through June 30, 2021. Specifically, the 927 respondents reported needing $54 million in total to offset lost revenue, meet increased demand, and restructure for a post-pandemic economy.

-- Human service organizations have the single biggest cash need for food, housing and assistance with basic human needs; a total of $23 million through June 30, 2021.

-- Employment within the nonprofit industry  in South Carolina has taken a blow. Jobs dropped by 7.5 percent in the last year, the survey found, right on par with findings from a recent study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies that looked at nonprofit job losses nationally.

The surveyed nonprofits expect to add back about 425 jobs by the end of June, which would still leave employment down about 4.1 percent. It should be noted that in 2016, SC’s nonprofit industry employed nearly 90,000 South Carolinians.

Looking forward, 59%, or 470, of respondents need help with cash flow and navigating public and private grants processes; 38.9% seek help managing a return to in-person work/service delivery; 26.1% need supplies (e.g., disinfectants, PPE); and, 20.3% seek mental health support for clients / staff.

“Government assistance to the nonprofit sector has been, and continues to be, essential for these organizations to maintain key services, especially in helping provide for basic human needs,” said Dr. Robert Kahle, Managing Director of Kahle Strategic Insights.

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