An Event or an Era?: Resources for Social Sector Decision-Making in the Context of COVID-19

Publication date: 
July, 2020

In April and May 2020, Deloitte interviewed over 75 leaders in the social sector to gather their insights and explore potential scenarios that may play out over the next 12 to 18 months. This guide lifts up various potential scenarios centered on the COVID-19 crisis, applying a racial equity lens to help inform the sector’s scenario planning efforts and future thinking.

Key takeaways:

  • We are dealing with multiple, compounding crises. One leader who was interviewed said, “We’re now dealing with three crises at the same time: a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social justice crisis.” The guide states that COVID-19 is “not only a ‘lead story’ but also the background setting in which other crises are playing out.” 

  • Nonprofits and funders will live in the same context but have different experiences. While funders and nonprofits are partnering and working together in new and different ways to ensure community needs are met, the pandemic is expected to have “far greater and more lasting financial and operational distress for nonprofits.”

  • The role of the social sector will be significantly determined by how federal, state and local governments are able to respond to the crisis. Budgetary constraints may limit state and local governments to adequately fund critical social services and it's unclear what this means for the role of the social sector.

  • How private funders respond to a potentially significant nonprofit contraction will matter. “If earned revenue, individual donations, and government contracts to nonprofits dry up, institutional funders will often be the last backstop for many nonprofits and infrastructure organizations,” the guide states while highlighting how the Ford Foundation and other funders are increasing spending to support nonprofits.

Resource type: