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LA Nonprofits Have Seen Increasing Demand Since The Pandemic. They May Not Be Able To Keep Up

A volunteer in a fluorescent orange vest and black masks from the Los Angeles Food Bank helps load a box of food into vehicles. There is a long line of vehicles on the road.  Another volunteer in the same attire bends forward to assist someone in a black car.
Volunteers from the Los Angeles Food Bank help load boxes of food into vehicles in Sylmar in Jan. 2021.
(Frederic J. Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Nonprofits in Los Angeles County are worried about their long-term financial sustainability, according to a new survey from the Nonprofit Finance Fund and the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A.

The findings indicate that the vast majority of L.A. nonprofits have seen an increase in demand for services due to the pandemic and that 90% expect that demand to increase. Nearly half said they don’t expect to be able to keep up.

“People are trying to keep their heads above water in terms of meeting this demand, and it must be frustrating to hear people say, 'Good news, the crisis is over. The demand is going to go backwards,'" Pat Brown Institute Executive Director Raphael Sonenshein said in a webinar reviewing the survey. ”Because as it turns out, the organizations in Los Angeles do not believe that this demand is going to go away.”

Another finding: persistent racial inequities meant the organizations that experienced the most demand did not necessarily receive the most support.

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Funding for nonprofits increased across the board, but compared with their white-led counterparts, nonprofits whose leaders are Black, indigenous or other people of color saw slightly smaller revenue increases from local, state, and federal sources, as well as from individual donors and foundations. That happened even as those groups saw a greater increase in demand for their services, the survey found. That trend was broken only by corporate giving, which increased by 33% and 29% for BIPOC-led and white-led organizations, respectively.

“If these are the organizations our most vulnerable communities trust, if they are the ones on the frontlines responding, imagine what they could do if we were actually investing in them at the levels that they actually need,” said Joanna Jackson of the Weingart Foundation.

“I know I’m not the only nonprofit director having sleepless nights worrying about my staffing, worrying about our revenue, if we will be able to meet full costs," said Lian Cheun, executive director of Khmer Girls in Action. "Who will help us cover the unsexy overhead costs?”

Isela Gracian, the senior deputy for L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, said the county is looking to create common practices among government departments to ease access for grants and contracts for historically underserved nonprofits.

You can read the full report below:

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