It’s Giving Tuesday and not-for-profits need your help

The COVID-19 Effect on the NEW North Nonprofit Sector
by Prof. Lora Warner

The NEW North region is home to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. On Giving Tuesday, besides giving to a favorite nonprofit organization, we should remember the vital roles these organizations play in our communities. Nonprofits provide services that enhance our quality of life and meet needs that neither private companies nor government address.

The Phase 2 survey was fielded in July and August, 2020 with 137 NEW North nonprofit organizations responding. There was much higher participation in the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) by NEW North respondents than those in other areas of the state. In the NEW North, 72% of nonprofits received or were approved for this funding compared to 61% statewide. This program made a significant financial impact that enabled the organizations to continue to operate. 

Other important findings:

  • About half of NEW North NPOs reduced service delivery due to the pandemic while the other half either adapted to offer services in a different way or increased service delivery. Statewide numbers were similar.
  • 82% of NEW North respondents reported that it was somewhat or very likely that they could continue to provide services for 12 weeks compared to 79% statewide. Arts and Humanities organizations were least likely to continue services.
  • 79% of NEW North respondents reported that it was somewhat or very likely that they could cover payroll costs for 12 weeks compared to 85% statewide. 21% of NEW North nonprofits would be somewhat or very unlikely to cover payroll for 12 weeks.
  • 56% of NEW North respondents were “greatly concerned” about declines in donation receipts compared to 52% statewide.
  • 75% of NEW North nonprofit respondents were “somewhat” or “greatly concerned” about inability to reach most marginalized clients, compared to 81% statewide.

How had NPOs responded to these concerns?  In many cases, NEW North nonprofits were similar to statewide peers:

  • About 10% had reduced staff and just over 50% had reduced volunteer support
  • About 3 in 5 had cancelled fundraising events
  • About half had projected several financial budget scenarios
  • Just over two in five had involved boards of directors to a greater extent
  • Two in five had collaborated with local government
  • 4-5% had ceased operations

However, the responses of NEW North nonprofits differed from counterparts statewide in some regards:

  • 52% had received emergency grants compared to only 43% statewide
  • 32% had reached out to major donors compared to only 28% statewide
  • 74% had implemented CDC strategies for opening up compared to only 67% statewide

This summary shares results of Phase 2 of a statewide survey of nonprofit organizations for the NEW North region of Wisconsin. The research is part of a statewide effort to study the responses of nonprofit organizations to the COVID-19 pandemic. Conducted by University of Wisconsin faculty from across the state, the research was organized by the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at UW-Milwaukee and the Institute for Nonprofit Management at UW-Whitewater. Lora Warner, Director of the Center for Public Affairs at UW-Green Bay, has issued this information for the NEW North region of Wisconsin. A statewide report is forthcoming. The Phase 2 survey, conducted in August 2020, collected information about capacity to continue to provide services and fund payroll over the upcoming 12 weeks. It asked about strategies to mitigate the changes in revenue and the likelihood of other actions that could be taken.

For more information, contact Lora Warner at

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