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Watch: "Kauffman Conversations: The Impact of Nonprofits" | 24:16

A focus on support for those who support our community

Nonprofit leaders discuss the heightened challenges organizations face as they serve communities through crisis.

The nonprofit sector has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey conducted by Nonprofit Connect among Kansas City nonprofit organizations indicated that 80% have seen an immediate decrease in revenues with an average decrease of 30%. Nonprofit workers are also experiencing secondary trauma from working on the front lines of the pandemic with people experiencing trauma and insecurity. With more than 12,569 registered nonprofits in Kansas City, 1 in 9 Kansas Citians employed by nonprofit organizations, and a collective annual revenue of $18.5 billion, the impacts on nonprofit organizations can be far-reaching.

By the numbers

  • 80% of nonprofits in Kansas City have seen an immediate decrease in revenues with an average decrease of 30%.
  • 12,569 nonprofits are registered in Kansas City.
  • 1 in 9 Kansas Citians are employed by nonprofit organizations.
  • Kansas City nonprofits earn a collective annual revenue of $18.5 billion.

Gloria Jackson-Leathers, Kauffman’s Vice President of Kansas City Civic, stressed the importance of stabilizing nonprofit organizations right now. “If you think about Kansas City minus the nonprofit sector, we have a different Kansas City,” she said. “Right now, our human service and social service organizations, nonprofit organizations, are all on the front line.”

Jackson-Leathers led a panel of nonprofit leaders from the Kansas City area to discuss challenges in the wake of COVID-19. She was joined by Dr. Dred Scott, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, and Luann Feehan, president and CEO of Nonprofit Connect. 

Scott said while the model around nonprofit resource development has been shifting for a long time, the pandemic has heightened the persistent issue of fundraising.

The Kansas City COVID Community Relief Fund has dispersed more than $8 million to about 109 different nonprofit organizations. Jackson-Leathers said this has been a lifeline for nonprofit organizations, many of which are feeling the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on multiple levels.

Yet, Scott said that even with relief funds, “if we’re not careful, the more well-known, the more prominent organizations, are able to access larger portions of those resources, leaving those smaller organizations – many times being led by people of color – without access.”

We have so many organizations that are small, that are being led by leaders of color, that are not getting the same opportunities, they’re not getting the same doors open, and they’re not getting the same funding that other organizations are achieving. And that’s got to change.

— Luann Freehan
President and CEO, Nonprofit Connect

Feehan agreed. “We know that small business is the backbone of the business community,” she said. “I would say small organizations are the backbone of the nonprofit sector, as well. We have so many organizations that are small, that are being led by leaders of color, that are not getting the same opportunities, they’re not getting the same doors open, and they’re not getting the same funding that other organizations are achieving. And that’s got to change.”

Feehan and Scott also addressed the issue of secondary trauma many nonprofit professionals face. Scott said right now this secondary trauma exists acutely within the pandemic, but it exists within the conversations taking place around race as well.

“We have high percentages of Black and Brown employees that work within the organization, that are trying to make a difference with the kids that we serve every day. Well, they have their own life experiences,” Scott said. “When situations and uprisings occur, where we start to see kind of a national focus on these very real issues that have been a part of our country since its inception, that begins to manifest some of the trauma that those staff members have experienced and are trying to deal with themselves.

“I think it’s important that as NPOs [nonprofit organizations], we recognize that our employees need an opportunity to decompress, and to be vulnerable, and to share, and to have dialogue around these very important issues,” Scott said.

Watch the full conversation in the video above.

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