United Way Suncoast Survey Reveals Strong Headwinds For Nonprofits

The climax of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have subsided, but the pandemic continues to exact a toll on area nonprofits according to a new survey conducted by the United Way Suncoast Data Team.

From staffing shortages to fundraising deficits to mental health concerns, the responses from 50 nonprofits across UWS’ five-county footprint indicate that the challenges have grown greater while the demand for their services continues to rise. Of all the respondents, 62 percent said they are very concerned about providing adequate staffing, and another 22 percent said they are somewhat concerned. Another 60 percent said they are very concerned about increased costs and expenses, with an additional 20 percent saying they’re somewhat concerned about increased costs and expenses. 

It’s a situation worthy of attention and assistance according to Josh Dunn, United Way Suncoast senior director for investments and partnership strategies. 

“It’s no secret that most small businesses and families are struggling or at least feeling the strain of rising costs and increased instability,” Dunn said. “Community based organizations are one of the first places those families and business owners turn to for support during difficult times. If those nonprofits are not able to receive families and provide support due to staff shortages and lack of funds, folks will fall through the cracks. 

“In addition, it is often those very same struggling families who have members working for the nonprofits who struggle to pay those individuals a living wage.” 

The UWS survey also determined that the Great Resignation didn’t spare area nonprofits, with 58 percent of respondents stating that staff turnover has been higher than usual. They also indicated that finding qualified staff has taken a significantly longer time than before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The findings of the UWS survey mirror the findings of a fall 2021 Florida Nonprofit Alliance survey of more than 1,500 organizations. It also revealed fundraising and funding as the largest concern of nonprofits in Florida, followed by the increasing demand for services and the declining support from volunteers. 

“UWS must continue to think critically about how support of programs that serve the community can be augmented by providing ways to address the rising costs of operating a nonprofit and engaging with the workforce,” Dunn said. “We must also lean into our role as a convener both to ensure that nonprofits are able to connect with each other and recognize some of these shared struggles as well as to provide leadership for innovating and finding new solutions. 

“As one of the public faces of the nonprofit community, we must also share these stories of need among those who can financially support direct service programs and all the internal work that allows the programs to produce direct benefits.” 

For more information about the survey or to arrange an interview with Dunn, please contact Ernest Hooper at (813) 310-4444.

More results can be found below. 


  • 10% of respondents said that a staff member had passed away due to COVID-19 or a complication; 44% of nonprofits surveyed said clients had passed away due to COVID or experienced loss in their family due to COVID-19. 
  • 42% of respondents said they had unexpected or unplanned retirements 
  • 58% said they had higher staff turnover than usual, with responses varying from a couple of employees turning over, to over half of their staff, to “hundreds” of staff members.  
  • The average time to rehire someone is 2-4 months.
  • Other comments largely said “longer than expected” with “so many unfulfilled positions”; and that finding qualified applicants has taken longer than usual which poses a significant challenge to the non-profits  
  • 52% of respondents are very concerned about employees’ physical and/or mental health (36% somewhat concerned).
  • 54% of respondents are very concerned about clients’ physical and/or mental health (40% somewhat concerned). 
  • 62% of respondents are very concerned about providing adequate compensation and resources for employees (22% somewhat concerned). 
  • 38% of respondents are very concerned about loss of income/revenue (28% somewhat concerned). 
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