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Pandemic pressure: Not-for-profits struggle while Australians commit to giving more

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Not-for-profits (NFPs) in Australia are coming under intense pressure a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 52% reporting an increase in demand for services and the majority reporting a decline in volunteers and donations.

However, according to new research by Our Community in partnership with Salesforce, 37% of Australians have indicated a willingness to help, saying they will give more time and money in the year ahead according to new research released today. The research, titled “COVID-19 Community Sector Impact Survey” included responses from 907 NFP representatives and 1,027 members of the public to understand the current state of the sector, how it has handled the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and what’s needed to rebuild and recover.

The same research showed that 67% of respondents said they’d already experienced a decrease in fundraising income, with 47% reporting a significant decrease. This year’s research reveals the percentage of organisations reporting an increase in income doubled from 6% in 2020 to 12% in 2021.

73% of NFPs rely on volunteers to deliver programs or services, but 64% of organisations reported a drop in volunteers during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 69% of Aussies believe there are challenges when trying to engage with and offer support to NFP organisations. 45% of Aussies said it’s difficult to find information on how to volunteer and what opportunities are available, and more than half said NFPs would do better with volunteers if they established an online community and engaged with them more.

“A trilogy of terror is facing the Australian community sector, which is facing increased demand for services, a reduction in donations and a catastrophic collapse in volunteering. The only thing that will save Australia’s 600,000 community groups will be Australians’ continued faith in them, and a bloody big investment by government to ensure the sector can invest in technology and reskill its workforce. We need a major industry plan for the future,” said Denis Moriarty, group managing director, Our Community.

The pandemic has accelerated the NFP sector’s shift to digital technology, with most organisations (74%) increasing their use of tech in the past 12 months, and 64% planning further adoption or investment over the year ahead. 61% of Aussies say that the use of technology by NFPs has an impact on their level of trust for the organisation.

For Andrew Hill, Salesforce’s Regional Vice President of Non-Profit and Education, NFPs can catch up to the demand by adopting a more digital workflow.

“Australians have moved to a digital first world and want to engage with NFPs in the same way they engage retailers, banks and governments. There’s a clear imperative to invest in seamless and comprehensive digital experiences which make it easier for people to volunteer and donate,” Hill said.

“Now is the time to capture the increased awareness and motivation for people to give back to their communities. Reaching people both online and in-person increases the scope and ease for not-for-profits to increase volunteer engagement and drive fundraising activities,” Hill said.

Download the COVID-19 Community Sector Impact Survey, brought to you by OurCommunity and Salesforce. 

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