The Ontario Nonfprofit Network and the Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) partnered on a bilingual survey to understand of the impact of the pandemic on Ontario’s 58,000 nonprofits and charities, and the effectiveness of the public policy and supports provided by the provincial and federal governments. It was also conducted to gather evidence of the need for future support or policy decisions on the road to recovery to emphasize, respect and recognize the role of nonprofits in their communities.

A total of 1,131 nonprofits and charitable organizations in Ontario participated in the survey in June 2020. Findings show that in the face of COVID-19 nonprofits continue to adapt to uncertain economic and political times. This survey follows the ONN’s COVID-19 Flash Survey and AFO’s Analyse du sondage sur la relance économique franco-ontarienne which provided a foundational perspective of the impact of COVID-19 on nonprofits at the start of the pandemic, as well as considerations around what would be needed for the recovery. This survey provides a crucial follow up, painting a picture of how the sector fared three months into the pandemic.

Three months into the COVID-19 crisis, Ontario’s nonprofits and charities face new challenges and more uncertainty. The impacts on the sector, its workers, volunteers and the communities they serve are becoming more pronounced as the health crisis recedes (for now) and the economic crisis deepens. This strain is in addition to COVID-related mental health needs, increased intimate partner violence, and the growing realization that marginalized communities- notably low-income households and racialized communities- have suffered disproportionate effects.

Summary of key findings:
Federal and provincial government supports have failed to recognize the size, scope, and economic impact of the nonprofit sector and have therefore fallen far short of what is needed to help nonprofits through the crisis and into recovery.

Over the last three months nonprofits have resorted to a combination of using their reserves, with 35 percent of nonprofits indicating that they have had to access their reserves, while just under a quarter (22 percent) of respondents have resorted to pay cuts, with 10 percent of respondents using personal funds to meet the financial need of their organizations.

Piecemeal solutions, although helpful in the short-term, are not working for nonprofits organizations and communities they support.

Nonprofits across the province have continued to adapt, working more closely with grassroots organizations and local networks to support those in their communities

More collaboration, flexibility and partnership between nonprofits and governments will be required, especially as all sectors plan for the recovery.

Survey Highlights
• Concern for financial sustainability and operational health
• Lack of access to government supports
• Collaborating, adapting, and demonstrating resilience

ONN and AFO continue to be concerned with how nonprofits and charities will survive not just in the next few months, but into 2021. With the possibility of a second wave of infections, it is more prudent than ever for governments to demonstrate their commitment to the nonprofit sector by working in partnership to address challenges. The organizations urge governments at all levels, as well as other funders and donors, to act now to ensure that nonprofits and charities can continue to meet their missions and serve their communities in these extremely challenging times.

1. The Ontario government must create a nonprofit sector stabilization fund to backstop massive revenue losses, prevent permanent job losses and closures, support the sector to “re-tool” to post-pandemic conditions, prepare for a second wave, and ramp up quickly in response to renewed demand for services.

2. The Ontario government should accelerate the deployment of pandemic pay, and other supports, which took too long to reach front-line organizations.

3. The Government of Canada should ensure the federal emergency wage subsidy program is more flexible and responsive to nonprofit business models.

4. Both levels of government must invest in rural broadband to help both nonprofits and small businesses thrive in small communities across Ontario.

5. Both levels of government must create a nonprofit sector advisory table to inform planning for the economic recovery, with representation from all nonprofit sectors.

About ONN
The organization is an independent network for the 58,000 nonprofits in Ontario, focused on policy, advocacy, and services to strengthen Ontario’s nonprofit sector as a key pillar of society and the economy.

About AFO
The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is the uniting organization and the political voice of Francophonie in Ontario. Their vision is a French Ontario united in its diversity, unified in its actions and collectively engaged to ensure its own well-being.

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