Local nonprofits lay off hundreds as pandemic shuts down revenue streams

April 16, 2020

By   – Research Director, Baltimore Business Journal – 

James Piper Bond had to lay off more than 50 employees amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, but hopes to rehire them when the nonprofit is up and running again.

“We are balancing being compassionate and living within our resources and being financially prudent,” said CEO of Living Classrooms Foundation. Typically, the foundation hires about 500 full and part-time employees throughout the year, with well over 120 hired through its programs.

Many of the organization’s facilities were forced to temporarily shut down, including Historic Ships in Baltimore and Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, after Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all non-essential businesses in Maryland to close on March 23.

The educational organization has had to pivot from its normal methods of teaching, offering virtual lessons for the hundreds of children involved in its programs. The nonprofit’s education department created STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) Activity Boxes for children across the region. The boxes, which contain all the materials needed to complete the activities as well as links to online resources, will be distributed to its campuses weekly until schools resume.

Like Living Classrooms, the Y in Central Maryland has also had to downsize its workforce.

The organization had to furlough about 2,100 employees — more than two-thirds of its staff — last month due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The local branch is one of the largest Y’s in the country with about 145,000 members, all of whom can no longer use the Y’s facilities due to the coronavirus shutdown. The organization was also forced to close its after school programs at about 50 schools.

The Y has been relying on revenue from memberships to make it through the crisis, said John Hoey, president and CEO of the Y in Central Maryland. The vast majority of members have kept their membership despite the organization’s facilities being shut down for about a month so far. But the longer the shutdown last, the harder that is to predict, he said.

“I think our business model, not for profit, is traditionally the best you can find because we generate revenue by providing services to people. Any other time, it is a viable model and ensures long-term sustainability. You couldn’t design a situation that is more destructive to the Y. Virtually all our of sources of revenue have been shut down,” Hoey said.

Hoey is hopeful the Y might still be able to host its annual Y Turkey Trot, a Thanksgiving morning tradition that raised $1.2 million last year.

“It’s hard to anticipate what that will look like. There are a lot of unknowns — when we can reopen, if people will feel comfortable in crowds, when we will all be back outside leading somewhat of a normal life,” Hoey said.

While the Y’s regular programming is temporarily closed, the nonprofit has reopened 11 family centers and six preschools across Greater Baltimore to provide child care for children of first responders and health care workers. The state-funded facilities have the capacity to serve about 900 children.

Port Discovery Children’s Museum is also trying to find ways it can still serve local children and families. The museum had to initiate a combination of furloughs, layoffs and salary reductions amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s a heartbreaking decision,” said Bryn Parchman, president and CEO of the children’s museum.

Spring is typically “busy season” for the museum with school field trips, spring break and people visiting over the holidays, Parchman said. The nonprofit organization relies on income from admissions, memberships, fields trips and events at the museum to support its staff and operations.

During the national crisis, the museum is offering online content and looking for ways to work with its partner organizations, including Center for Urban Families, Baltimore City Public School Systems and Baltimore City Health Department to continue the effort.

“When we open, it will be in a modified state. It won’t be business as usual,” Parchman said.


Original source: https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/04/13/baltimore-nonprofits-lay-off-hundreds-coronavirus.html