AAPI Data and the Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) today released results from a survey on the experiences of nearly 400 nonprofits across the United States serving Asian American (AA)and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This effort is a partnership with Asian Pacific Fund, Asian Pacific Community Fund, and Korean American Community Foundation of New York.

The report titled Stepping Up for Community Amidst COVID-19, Xenophobia, and Violence: A Survey of Nonprofits Serving Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders uses data from a first-of-its-kind survey that seeks to understand the experiences, challenges, and opportunities they faced during the pandemic. “One of the purposes of this survey and report is to listen to our AA and NHPI communities and to understand where they are to better support them,” said Chun-Yen Chen, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Community Fund. “It is our hope that whenever funders are making their funding decisions, they utilize information like this report to meet the needs of the community.”

Despite the historical lack of investment, AA and NHPI nonprofits continued to meet the emergent needs of their communities. Most AA- and NHPI-serving nonprofits were able to serve more clients and expand their geographic reach. “The nonprofits most deeply rooted in the community, with leadership that reflect the people they serve, have been our most effective partners in ensuring that those most impacted by a crisis are heard and can access vital resources and services,” noted Kyung B. Yoon, President of the Korean American Community Foundation. “This report underscores the importance of investing in such grassroots organizations, many of which continue to be overlooked by traditional funding sources.”

A majority of nonprofits (61%) surveyed reported increasing the number of clients served during the pandemic. Fifty-seven percent of the nonprofits reported expanding their geographical reach. “We had to step up in multiple ways for our community, including figuring out ways to allocate cash assistance to community members. Our organization has strengthened and grown in multiple ways, and we need private philanthropy to step in to help us continue providing vital services and to strengthen our ability to advocate,” said Geraldine Alcid, Executive Director of Filipino Advocates 4 Justice.

AA- and NHPI-serving nonprofits stepped up in admirable ways during the pandemic, and yet more is needed in order to sustain the gains they’ve made. As Carolyn Wang Kong, President and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Fund, urges, “The Stepping Up report makes visible the outsized role that AANHPI non-profit organizations play in supporting the unique needs of our community. At a time when only 0.2% of philanthropic dollars go to AA- and NHPI-serving nonprofits, we urge the broader philanthropic community to invest in our long-term infrastructure – see us, value us, and imagine what we can do together.”

The pandemic and rising xenophobia drove more public and private funding to AA- and NHPI-serving nonprofits, but the support was fleeting. “We need to break the vicious cycle of crisis, attention, response, and then disappearance. That happened after the 2021 shootings in Atlanta. Lavender Phoenix saw a spike in donations and interest, but then our community’s needs were forgotten months later. It is important to continue paying attention to the perspectives, experiences, and challenges faced by LGBTQ members of our communities as well,” explained Yuan Wang, Executive Director of Lavender Phoenix.

NHPI-serving nonprofits require particular attention given the deep disparities experienced in the pandemic. “It is important that Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander perspectives and experiences are included in the conversation, and that our community organizations are prioritized for investments. Our community members had some of the highest death rates due to COVID, but the attention and resources did not come to Samoan Community Development Center until much later. We do the best we can, but public and private funders need to do much better in the future, to make sure that our community organizations are provided adequate resources to fully serve the needs of our community,” asserted Patsy Tito, Executive Director of Samoan Community Development Center.

The #SteppingUp Report is part of a multi-part series on our survey of nonprofits. In the coming months, AAPI Data will contextualize these results with an analysis of data from the Internal Revenue Service to better understand how the nonprofit landscape has changed over the last 5 years. We will also produce region-specific reports and conduct follow-up interviews with a selection of respondents to gain a more detailed understanding of how nonprofits continue to navigate opportunities and challenges.

Link to report and survey results: https://aapidata.com/nonprofits23/