Listening and Learning from the Voices of Our Community

Categories: COMMUNITY CARE: Emergency Needs & Disaster Relief, Nonprofits, CEO Message, Response and Recovery,

Dear Friends and Family:

The hearts and minds of our resilient community are resolute on the path forward for a thoughtful recovery. Recent COVID-19 crises have touched every family, individual, and organization and the efforts to heal are just as encompassing.

As a community convener and connector, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County recognizes that our recovery is only as strong as the tools, resources, and voices that come together to create it. This was the inspiration behind our partnership with seven local foundations - Charlotte Community Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, The Patterson Foundation, and The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation - to gather insight from area cause leaders to better understand the severity of COVID-19’s impact on our community and provide actions to support our partners. Eager to share, nearly 300 nonprofits responded to this in-depth questionnaire, representing a cross section of agencies from nine unique sectors: animal welfare, arts and culture, civic engagement, education, environment, food and nutrition, human services, health, and youth services.


As we share this report of the survey results with you, please know we are listening and relying on this feedback to guide our philanthropic response that will complement the changing government and private support to develop immediate, short-term, and long-term opportunities. Driven by many of these insights, we will be hosting one of several series with guest leaders and experts highlighting community needs by cause area, and we welcome our community to be an active participant and partner. In this decisive phase of monitoring community needs, what we can measure matters, even if we are still learning what the meaning of the data we have can offer us.

Nonprofit Pandemic Recovery Survey Results

There is a tremendous sense of urgency among local nonprofit organizations that are scarcely sustaining operations with government and philanthropic support as earned revenues have dwindled. Facing decreased capacity and future uncertainty, cause leaders fear for the vulnerable populations they serve who have been disproportionately impacted by this crisis, especially in the field of mental health. While the 292 responding organizations reported receiving $45 million cumulatively in PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funding, many partners also reported tapping into reserves for the next six months to tackle pressing financial realities. This is in addition to 35% of respondents receiving additional funding from foundations, SBA Economic Injury Disaster loans, individual donors, and United Way. A source of additional funding also was raised during the 2020 Giving Challenge, serving as a vital lifeline for the nearly 700 nonprofits who participated in this 24-hour giving day held in April.


What is needed most is not new:technology and fundraising. The shift to the virtual landscape has led nonprofit partners to embrace unforeseen opportunities while overcoming barriers, with an emphasis on equitable access to education and programs through technology. While the eagerness to learn and pivot to a new form of engagement – ranging from social media to virtual events – is stronger than ever, the means to do so successfully are restricted by equipment costs, digital divides, and concerns over cybersecurity, among others. This reality underscores the importance of having the right tools and funding today are crucial in creating a community that we want to live in now, and for the next generation.


Innovation, connection, and collaboration were listed as imperative to sustaining operations, as many entities currently lack the capacity to deliver programs and services at pre-pandemic levels. As business models continue to shift and uncertainty haunts reopening plans, we expect more strategic and innovative partnerships working across sectors further weaving an interconnected web of resources to support and empower our community. covid19-nonprofit-survey-requested-work-group-topics.JPG

Concerns still exist, however. While we don’t know yet the full impact this crisis will have, please be reassured that we are committed to continually evaluating the needs of our communities and sharing those needs with you.

As parting words, I want to share with you a comment left by one of our nonprofit partners that filled my heart with hope and optimism: “We are capable of so much more than we might have imagined.” We are, indeed. After all, the path to recovery is wide enough for all of us.

With hope for a brighter future,
Roxie Jerde

About Author

Roxie Jerde

President and CEO