Analyzing the Impacts of COVID-19 on Non-Profits



Not-for-profit (NFP) organizations across the country may operate differently from for-profit organizations and businesses, but they are feeling the impact of the coronavirus just as acutely. Like their for-profit counterparts, nonprofit organizations were caught off guard by sudden shifts in how business is done. Every facet of operation from fundraising to recruiting and organizing volunteers faced new challenges while exacerbating existing pain points. Looking beyond the commonalities, however, it is important to analyze the impacts specific to NFP organizations and the strategies that ultimately proved useful in mitigating their affects.

In an interview with the Journal of Accountancy, Amy West, CPA, CGMA and the COF of AHRC in New York City discussed the twofold dilemma of NFPs during the COVID-19 pandemic which is that during times of uncertainty donations tend to decline while the need for services provided by NFPs increase. Still, West maintains there are several opportunities for NFPs in the current environment, including telecommuting, alternative work schedules, reducing real property footprints, realizing the full potential of a technology strategic plan and automating manual processes, such as payroll and accounts payable1.

Indeed, technology is proving to be something of a theme for those organizations finding strategies to not only maintain operations but to improve processes and become more adaptable amid fluctuating circumstances. For example, the Accounting Aid Society, which provides full-service tax assistance to families and individuals with incomes up to $56,000 annually, recently received recognition as the 2020 Best-Managed Nonprofit in the under $3 million revenue category, according to Crain’s Detroit Busines.

The Accounting Aid Society was in the middle of their tax season when mandated closures forced them to shut down all of its physical locations. “It was a critical time for our clients to be able to access refunds,” Accounting Aid President Kathleen Hatke Aro told Crain’s. “They count on the returns to pay bills, keep food on the table, buy necessities and make down payments on homes and cars. That’s why we said it’s not an option to just stop, to not do anything.”

Which is why, remote operations for the NFP’s call center were established and up and running within a week and, just a month after closing those sites, Accounting Aid Society launched a secure, online, free tax preparation service using a piecemeal assembly of commercial software products to service their clients. Tax preparations resumed and, what is more, discovered that 90 percent of their clients preferred the online method2.

The key takeaways from NFPs seem to have a common theme: Innovation, communication and leveraging all manner of tech to get the job done. This #GivingTuesday, the MICPA is asking members to find ways to support one another, as we continue to look for new and innovative ways to support our ever-expanding network of professionals, students, educators and contributors.

  1. Amato, Neil. “COVID-19 Lessons for Not-For-Profits.” Journal of Accountancy. 14 Oct. 2020. Accessed on 30 Nov. 2020.
  2. Welch, Sherri. “Winner: Nonprofit Under $3 Million Accounting Aid Ensure Stimulus.” Crain’s Detroit Business. 20 Nov. 2020. Accessed on 30 Nov. 2020.

Source: MICPA

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