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Mainebiz: Prolonged effects of pandemic: Nonprofit leaders talk about challenges, in their own words

By September 25, 2023February 29th, 2024News

This article was published by Mainebiz. View the article online through the link below or read a snippet copied from the article, below.

Maine nonprofits are still experiencing a variety of damaging ripple effects from a pandemic that started in March 2020. Unprecedented fundraising and staffing challenges continue to coincide with increased demand for the vital services they provide.

This slow-motion crisis with no clear endpoint has led some in the community to question the fundamentals of how they operate. They wonder if perhaps a reboot or reimagining is in order. Many have made significant changes already.

Mainebiz asked leaders of more than a half-dozen Maine nonprofits to describe the biggest challenges they face in 2023. Some problems are new and others perennial, but all have been touched by the pandemic. It has either created or exacerbated them.

A need for ‘stronger pipeline of qualified candidates’

Kristen Farnham: Vice president of legal affairs and advancement at Spurwink

Kristen Farnham of Spurwink

For Spurwink, our two greatest challenges are intertwined: the critical need for behavioral health services and the challenge in recruiting staff. In many of our programs — from substance use treatment to outpatient counseling, and from our therapeutic preschool to our nursing home for people with disabilities — we have waitlists. More people need our services than we are able to take at this time.

We also know that anxiety and depression is spiking among youth, and that there are not enough treatment programs for people with opiate and other substance use disorders. However, we can’t expand our services to meet those community needs without the staff to provide treatment.

With certain positions, we have gained some ground in hiring in recent months, while for others such as clinicians and nurses, we could use a stronger pipeline of qualified candidates in Maine to fill our open positions.