Pivoting Services: Resilience in the Face of Disruptions in Nonprofit Organizations Caused by COVID-19


  • Kara Newby Auburn University
  • Brittany Branyon Auburn University




Nonprofit Programming, COVID-19, Organizational Resilience, Loss of Services


The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global event that has sent shockwaves through every aspect of the economy. The nonprofit sector has been dealt a double hit—relying on donations in a time of economic hardship while being on the frontlines of the response to increased need. Previous studies have shown that COVID-19 has impacted nonprofits in numerous ways; however, the majority of studies have focused on the financial impact. Using a resilience framework, this study adds to the literature by analyzing how nonprofits have dealt with the loss of services, what it has looked like to pivot and adapt to this new environment, and what impact the loss of volunteers has had on organizations. In this qualitative study of 12 nonprofits in the Southeast United States, we find that while the organizations do talk about financial strain, equally as stressful has been the loss of face-to-face services. Nonprofits are used to being on the frontlines of most emergencies, and in this pandemic, many have struggled to keep their workers safe by following health guidelines while also serving their clients. The inability to meet with clients and the stress of pivoting to an online environment is as great or greater of a burden as the financial impact.

Author Biographies

Kara Newby, Auburn University

Kara Newby is a PhD candidate and instructor in Public Policy and Public Administration at Auburn University. Her interests are in nonprofit management and service provision, as well as politics of place.

Brittany Branyon, Auburn University

Brittany Branyon is a PhD student in Public Policy and Public Administration at Auburn University and is director of Community and Collegiate Programs at the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. Her research interests include nonprofit education, capacity building within the voluntary sector, and the impact of nonprofits on public policy.   






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