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AG Yost Partners with OSU and Nonprofit to Study Charitable Impacts During COVID-19 Pandemic


(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Like other sectors, COVID-19 is limiting how charities operate with a new study showing that more than one in four Ohio nonprofits are not able to provide any services due to its economic fallout and an additional 50% are doing so at a significantly reduced capacity.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office partnered with Philanthropy Ohio and The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs to produce The Ohio Nonprofit COVID-19 Survey which captured early reactions of the nonprofit sector to the pandemic, including their concerns and planned actions.

“Everyone is making financial decisions that will hopefully limit their long-term impact,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “The stark reality is that even small cuts to Ohio charities will have large consequences. Remember your fellow Ohioan when budgeting cuts for charities – they need us more now more than ever.” 

The study began in early April in response to the public health crisis and received more than 7,700 responses from charities and nonprofits throughout the state. With input from several members of the Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Advisory Council, the project partners plan to field further rounds of the survey in the coming months to track how nonprofits are overcoming and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Without the ability to host large gatherings, cancellations and postponements are happening rapidly and are not limited to the state’s larger cities. Large charity events such as the American Heart Association’s Heart Mini-Marathon and Walk — Cincinnati’s largest fundraiser — have been cancelled or postponed statewide over the past two months. The Komen Columbus Race for the Cure, originally scheduled for May 16, has been postponed until August 1. With delays and cancellations, food banks throughout Ohio are feeding more people with limited resources.

“The sector is resilient, but keeping nonprofit doors open depends heavily on the goodwill of funders and volunteers,” said Dr. Erynn Beaton of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. “I want this study to draw attention to the challenges these organizations face – at a time when people need them most. There are many nonprofits struggling, and even the smallest donations can help.”

The report found that the following revenue streams are “very important” to survey participants:

  • Individual donations (68.7% of respondents)
  • Business or corporate donations (43.7%)
  • Foundation grants (30.9%)
  • Earned income like service fees and charges (28.8%)
  • Membership dues (28.5%)
  • Government grants and contracts (23.2%)
Responding nonprofits already are cutting administrative expenses, applying for the Federal Payroll Protection Program and cutting or furloughing staff. About 18% of them have had to draw on reserves and others are strongly considering it.

“Philanthropy Ohio is grateful for the nonprofits who are working under difficult circumstances to continue their services to clients and communities,” said Deborah Aubert Thomas, president and CEO of Philanthropy Ohio. “We are glad that so many foundations, companies and United Ways are stepping up to help, as seen by the more than 55 COVID-19 relief funds – with more than 116 organizations – across Ohio that have raised about $26 million and disbursed over $15 million since the crisis began.”

Philanthropy Ohio is an association of foundations, corporate giving programs, individuals and organizations actively involved in philanthropy in Ohio.

Charitable organizations fulfill a vital role in Ohioans’ quality of life. The attorney general’s office provides a variety of resources, including a database of registered charities, to help charitable leaders serve their communities and reassure donors that their contributions are being used as they intend.

David O'Neil: 614-728-6069

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