The Maui County Nonprofit Directors and the Hawaiʻi Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations released key findings from a recent survey of nonprofit executive directors on Maui. The survey, conducted from Sept. 18-28, 2023, sheds light on the profound impact of the fires and the urgent needs within the community.
Chief among the findings was the dramatic shift in work for the nonprofit sector. Over 80% of respondents have shifted the focus of their work to fire relief, affecting the sector’s capacity to deliver a wide range of social services.
In addition, seven out of 10 nonprofit leaders reported an increase in demand for services since the fires – with some experiencing a 40% uptick in requests for assistance. This increase exacerbated challenges facing the community before the fires, including the lack of affordable housing and the increased demand for mental health services, while raising new challenges, including loss of income affecting workers and small businesses across the islands.
While nonprofits are working diligently to address these issues, they reported significant gaps in support that are hindering their work. Over 70% of executive directors cited additional funding as their top need while staffing followed at 58%. Office, warehouse, and convening/staging space were identified as areas of need by approximately 30% of respondents.
Related to staffing challenges, nonprofit directors also shared stories of loss among their staff, including homes and family members. They expressed concerns about staff retention citing compassion fatigue, burnout, and feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of community needs.
As the community begins to recover, most executive directors anticipate a sustained increase in the demand for social services.
“Unfortunately, recovery is not a quick process,” said Maui United Way President & Chief Professional Officer, Nicholas Winfrey. “In addition to the impacts of the fires, Maui’s nonprofit sector was already working to address complex challenges in the areas of mental health, housing and economic stability. The good news is that Maui has a strong, collaborative nonprofit sector that will continue to work together on behalf of fire survivors and all residents. Our goal is to not only ‘recover’ but to build a stronger, more resilient community for the future.”