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NIU and McHenry County collaborate on nonprofit study

June 21, 2021

Report includes a comprehensive profile of the nonprofit sector, impact of COVID-19

McHenry County is home to nearly 2,000 nonprofit organizations of all sizes. A new, comprehensive study conducted by Northern Illinois University provides a glimpse at their structure, funding, programs, challenges and the impact of COVID-19.

The Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies at Northern Illinois University and Not-For-Profit Resources, Inc. collaborated on the study, which provided one NIU undergraduate student with valuable hands-on research and nonprofit experiences.

“Northern Illinois University has been an ongoing, valuable partner to our organization for several years,” said Laurie Bivona, program and outreach director for Not-for-Profit Resources.

“When determining how to gather data that would be a catalyst in creating the services and resources needed to help our McHenry County nonprofits recover and grow from the pandemic, there was no question that the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies would be an integral component in this journey,” Bivona added.

Study highlights include:

  • More than 50% of nonprofits stated their greatest professional needs currently are resource sharing and training.
  • 56% of nonprofits are delivering their programs and services to a greater extent due to COVID-19.
  • More than 26% of McHenry County nonprofits operate with a budget of less than $100,000. Thirty-six percent of nonprofits have budgets over $1,000,000.
  • Nearly 90% of nonprofits measure or evaluate their programs and service.
  • Nearly all nonprofits utilize volunteers (91%) and 75% have paid staff. About two thirds of all nonprofit employees live in McHenry County.
  • COVID-19 caused significant disruptions in nonprofit activities, particularly related to fundraising. Nearly 70% of nonprofits lost revenue from fundraising events and near 39% reported declining direct contributions. Overall, nonprofits report an estimated loss of $10 million due to the pandemic.

“Nonprofits as a whole are a hardy lot and are used to ‘doing a lot with very little.’ COVID-19 revealed that they are truly the backbone upon which essential services are delivered in a time of need,” Bivona said. “The study illustrates how much they stepped up to the plate and how vital they are to our community.”

Alicia Schatteman, director of the Center and the principle investigator for the study, strongly believes in documenting the nonprofit sector in order to get a true picture of a community.

“Nonprofit organizations provide essential services, which only increased in many cases during the pandemic. While often unseen, this study serves to highlight the size and scope of the nonprofit sector.”

Studies like the one conducted for McHenry County can be utilized in strategic planning, Schatteman added.

“This study can be used by the government and business sectors to understand the scope and depth of the nonprofit sector, whose work contributes to strong communities working alongside the other sectors,” she said. “Thriving communities need all three sectors working together and planning for the future.”

As the community and the nonprofits continue their recovery from the pandemic, the study results will serve as a foundation for advocating for access to greater resources and funds. Bivona hopes the study will serve as a catalyst to building greater cooperation between nonprofits, funders, government, business and the community.

The report can be accessed on either the Nonprofit and NGO website or the Not-For-Profit Resources website.

Not-for-Profit Resources is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, playing an integral role in bringing best practices, professional development workshops, funding resources, networking opportunities and equality awareness to McHenry County nonprofits. Learn more at .

The Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies is an interdisciplinary academic unit that connects students, faculty, researchers and nonprofit organizations across Northern Illinois. Created in 2010, The Center hosts the only nonprofit undergraduate program offered at an Illinois public institution to educate the next generation of nonprofit and community leaders. The Center brings the latest research to the nonprofit sector in the form of community-based research assistance, professional development, networking and student engagement.

For more information about the survey methodology or NIU’s Nonprofit and NGO Studies call 815-753-4410 or email [email protected].