CLEVELAND, Ohio — COVID-19 is limiting how most charities operate and a new survey shows the pandemic has stopped some nonprofits from providing services at all.

    What You Need To Know

    • Study shows that more than 1 in 4 Ohio nonprofits are not able to provide any services due to COVID-19 impact

    • Ohio AG's Office partnered with Philanthropy Ohio and The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs to conduct study

    • Project partners plan to field further rounds of the survey in the coming months to track how nonprofits are overcoming and recovering from the pandemic

Chief Communications Officer with non-profit organization Philanthropy Ohio Claudia Herrold says the purpose of the survey isn’t just to show charitable impacts during COVID-19, but to act as a call to action to the public and to policymakers. 

“We wanted to be able to inform the decisions that our policymakers at the state and federal levels, would be making,” Herrold said.

Over 7,000 nonprofit organizations across the state responded to the Ohio Nonprofit COVID-19 Survey produced by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Philanthropy Ohio and the Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

The survey captures early reactions of the nonprofit sector to the pandemic, including their concerns and planned actions.

“So, 15 percent cut or are furloughed staff,  that's really tough because we know these organizations are on the front lines of giving behavioral health care, they're providing emergency food, all of those things, taking care of our kids and after school programs. Also, 25 percent cut administrative expenses. So, anywhere they could they were cutting those expenses, whether that was around travel or professional development, their own learning that cost money. We also saw that 19 percent applied for a federal loan,” said Herrold. 

She says 13 percent of charities have resorted to appealing to donors directly via email and social media, and many others cited not being able to access volunteers.

Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks Lisa Hamler-Fugitt says each of the 12 Feeding America Food Banks and 3,600 member charities the association represents are trying to continue serving the growing number of Ohioans in need, while managing a lack of volunteers and resources. 

“We realized that not only were we the grocery store for 1.6 million Ohioans in the best of economic times, but that tens of thousands more Ohioans were joining the food line,” Hamler-Fugitt said.

Hamler-Fugitt says food banks, soups kitchens and homeless shelters are feeding over 20 percent of Ohioans right now and the cost of doing so has not gone down. 

“Our costs are up significantly. We had to hire temporary staff to get more trucks on the road, pay overtime, do deep cleaning of our operations. In some cases we've got food banks reporting they're exceeding their payroll line items by substantial amounts in the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Long term, this is not sustainable,” Hamler-Fugitt said.

Hamler-Fugitt and Ohio Atorney General Dave Yost agree that the Ohio Nonprofit COVID-19 Survey paints a clear picture — that many Ohio nonprofits won’t be able to keep meeting more needs with less resources. 

“One out of four charities has had to stop operations all together during this crisis. One out of every two have had to cut back on the amount of help that they're able to give people, and the survey shows us that more than two thirds of them rely, not on a big corporations, they rely on people at home, individual donors,” said Yost.

The state's 37,000 public charities have to register with the Attorney General’s Office. Yost says his office has tried to ease the burden on them by putting off a number of the regulatory and reporting deadlines.

Yost adds that he’s encouraging those who can, to give— and give generously.

“Everybody’s being hit. This is a tough time. I just cut $4.6 million out of my Bio offices budget. But charities — three out of four of them have either cut back or stopped because the cash is drying up. Your gifts are important for these charities to keep operating."