For UWM updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit

Ongoing Research Projects

The COVID-19 Effect on Wisconsin’s Nonprofit Sector


Nonprofit organizations are often on the front lines of crisis – frequently referred to as “second responders”, serving as a resource for individuals after emergency aid has been provided. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Wisconsin nonprofits are experiencing increased demands for food, shelter and other basic necessities, yet have been hindered or completely cut off from responding due to school closures, stay at home orders, and social distancing. In Wisconsin, one in twelve employees works at a nonprofit, representing a total of $14.6 billion in annual wages* – making the programs and services provided by statewide nonprofits an important component of the economic engine that ensures Wisconsin is a thriving, vibrant state.


In an effort to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wisconsin nonprofits’ ability to meet their community’s needs, the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Milwaukee, in partnership with the Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and our affiliate faculty throughout the UW-System, will issue a survey to nonprofit leaders in April 2020. The aim of this study is to provide real-time data to government officials, foundations, and other decision-makers about the current economic conditions facing nonprofits and the need for immediate and long-term support in order to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services throughout Wisconsin. The hope is that, by understanding the effect of the pandemic, we can also better understand the recovery process to be required afterward.


Our highest priority is to learn directly from Wisconsin nonprofit leaders, by connecting with a broad range of nonprofits, with a broad array of missions. Based on an established online survey developed by the University of San Diego, data collection efforts will focus on a variety of nonprofit capacities potentially affected by the ongoing pandemic, including:

  • Effect on Programs & Service Delivery
  • Human Resources, including staffing and payroll
  • Finance & Revenue, including access to federal stimulus funding

The survey will also collect information on needed resources, to better understand ways academic and community partners can assist Wisconsin’s nonprofit sector through these developing challenges and beyond.

Project Timeline

The online survey is slated to be made available for participation April 13-26, 2020. Additionally, a series of brief quarterly follow-up surveys will be released throughout 2020 to track change, stimulus funding effectiveness, and overall sector recovery. Participants in this initial survey will be encouraged to take part throughout the year. This information will be made available to public, private, and nonprofit leaders through quarterly updates, followed by a complete report at the end of 2020. The intention is to continue the project until it is determined to be no longer necessary.

The survey can be completed by following this link: To Be Announced

* Nonprofit Wisconsin: In Brief – Size and Scope  Economic Impact, Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management, 2019

Understanding & Supporting Milwaukee Nonprofits

During the autumn of 2019, The Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in partnership with Project Pivot, conducted a survey of Milwaukee nonprofit leaders to ask the question, “What do the nonprofits in our community need and how can those needs be met?”

The study, guided by an Advisory Council, involved a survey of Milwaukee-area nonprofit organizations conducted by HBI. Our survey of Milwaukee nonprofits and analysis of the data has been completed and Project Pivot’s summary presentation of the survey results is now available. In addition, more detailed data is available for download.

Check out the Project Pivot website for updates on the Understanding & Supporting Milwaukee Nonprofits project.

With generous support from: