UW-Green Bay’s Center for Public Affairs Releases Report on COVID-19 Effect on Northeast Wisconsin Nonprofits

Green Bay, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Center for Public Affairs today (June 3, 2020) has released its report on the Covid-19 Effect on Nonprofit Organizations in Northeast Wisconsin.

Associate Prof. Lora Warner, director of UW-Green Bay’s Center for Public Affairs and Associate Prof. Michael Ford at UW Oshkosh co-authored the report which examined financial issues, human resources, program delivery and needs for support as nonprofit organizations attempt to continue to serve the community after the stay home orders were issued by Governor Evers. UW-Green Bay Assistant Prof. Kerry Kuenzi is collaborating in the statewide project as well.

The research included 139 nonprofit organizations in Northeast Wisconsin (546 organizations statewide), representing large and small organizations ranging from human services and education to social benefit, arts/culture/humanities, environmental and health-related.

The study, conducted in late April, 2020, found that over half of organizations have reduced staff and 80% have reduced usage of volunteers. Most have significantly reduced service delivery and others have quickly had to change how services are delivered to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while meeting the needs of our communities. Three-fourths are concerned about being able to connect with some of their most vulnerable clients due to poor technology access, limited ability to meet face-to-face and challenges communicating with the children, at-risk youth, persons struggling with addiction and isolated older adults that they serve. Northeast Wisconsin nonprofits showed higher rates of collaborating with each other compared to statewide, while they showed a lower rate of collaboration with local government. Just under half have received no emergency funding and two-thirds are very concerned about loss of summer event revenues, which often provide funding for the year. While most report that they can continue to operate for the next 8 weeks, the next round of the survey (in July) will examine how they have fared.

The goal of this report is to share information with government, funders and corporate leaders about how the sector is doing so that community leaders can support the viability of the sector.

“The nonprofit sector is an underappreciated part of our society that really provides the foundation for our quality of life in often-invisible ways,” said Prof. Lora Warner, lead author of the Northeast Wisconsin report. “I am full of admiration for the strength and creativity shown by our local nonprofits, who have turned on a dime, gotten creative, and jumped in as partners to meet our community’s needs. If they are going to be able to continue to do that, they need us, ordinary citizens, to speak up and step up along with them.”

About the statewide project:  In an effort to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wisconsin nonprofits’ ability to meet their community’s needs, the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Milwaukee, in partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and our affiliate faculty throughout the UW-System, will issue a series of surveys to nonprofit leaders throughout 2020. The initial survey was launched in April. The aim of this study is to provide real-time data to government officials, foundations, and other decision-makers about the current economic conditions facing nonprofits and the need for immediate and long-term support in order to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services throughout Wisconsin. The hope is that, by understanding the effect of the pandemic, we can also better understand the recovery process to be required afterward.

For more information, please contact Prof. Lora Warner (UW-Green Bay) warnerl@uwgb.edu or Prof. Michael Ford (UW-Oshkosh) fordm@uwgb.edu

To find the reports and other information:

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to nearly 8,000 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, D-I athletics, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.


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