DeGroote School of Business

Non-Profit Resilience in the Context of COVID-19


The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has hit non-profit organizations particularly hard. Thus, there is a need to help non-profit organizations develop and exhibit resilience so that they can in turn help Canadians in the coming recovery. Should non-profits struggle or fail, many of the Canadians that depend on their services will be negatively impacted?

We have partnered with Social Impact Advisors (SIA), a for-profit consultancy that helps non-profit clients achieve greater impact. As a trusted consultant to the non-profit community, SIA has received requests from their clients as to how to build and exhibit resilience throughout this challenging time. The research that we do in this partnership will help SIA develop specialized knowledge regarding how non-profits should build and achieve resilience to this and future crises.

This study employs a matched-pairs comparative design. With this method, the team will interview multiple respondents from 10 non-profits that have exhibited strong resilient responses and 10 non-profits that have struggled or are struggling. We will analyze this data inductively, building narratives that help us understand how each non-profit has responded to COVID-19. Our aim will be to better understand both the characteristics that helped non-profits exhibit resilience in the immediate onset of the crisis but also, over time, how non-profit organizations develop and exhibit resilience.


Letter of Information – Non-Profit Resilience in the Context of COVID-19


This is an ongoing study. Reports, podcasts, and other published work will be posted here throughout the study and upon its completion.

Please read the report on Assessing Non-profit Resilience – Interim

The research team has recently published this Conversation piece entitled How COVID-19 could transform non-profit organizations.  Dr. Brent McKnight was a guest on Stirling Faux’s morning show on Global 980 CKNW out of Vancouver discussing this piece and this research.


For more information about related research, visit these sites.

Engine of impact: Essentials of strategic leadership in the non-profit sector

  • Imagine Canada has released a ‘Sector Monitor’ report on Charities & the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as motivation for this research.