In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as mandated closures cause a severe revenue shortfall, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte today announced significant changes to ensure the organization’s long-term viability, including reductions in workforce and pay, extended furloughs, and benefits coverage for full-time furloughed staff through May.
The YMCA on March 17 suspended all programming and access to its 19 branches and two resident camps in its four-county service area. Because program and membership fees account for nearly 90 percent of revenue, the organization’s projected revenue shortfall due to closures caused by the pandemic have made it impossible to sustain its current workforce and structure.
“It is impossible to overstate the deep impact that membership and program cancellations have had on YMCAs across the country, including ours,” said CEO Todd Tibbits. “We have encouraged members to convert their monthly membership fees to tax-deductible charitable donations to help support our operations, our community work and our staff during our closure, and we are grateful for the continued support of our members, donors and volunteers. Nevertheless, the fact remains that extended closures have significantly impacted our financial forecast and forced us to make decisions that seemed unthinkable a month ago.”
In addition to the immediate furlough in March of 3,400 part-time staff and 240 full-time staff, the YMCA worked through a variety of measures to reduce expenses and to preserve cash flow, including renegotiating credit lines, lease agreements and debt payments; actively pursuing subsidies, tax credits and tax deferrals available as part of national and state relief legislation (and for which most large non-profits are not eligible); suspending all non-essential expenditures and capital expenditures where possible; and salary cuts for senior leadership.
Despite all of these adjustments, the YMCA is now extending staff furloughs while ensuring all furloughed full-time staff maintain benefits through May 31; implementing an across-the-board pay cut for the approximately 200 actively working full-time staff; and eliminating 55 positions (approximately 12.5 percent of full-time staff) including several leadership positions. Staff whose positions are eliminated are eligible for separation pay based on years of service. Apart from separation pay, staff whose positions are eliminated will be eligible to apply to the Emergency Staff Relief Fund that was implemented in late March for furloughed staff.
“Our staff is like family, which makes these decisions particularly painful as they impact people and families we care for deeply,” said Tibbits. “We also understand this is a big blow for the greater Charlotte community. And while we know this pandemic is forcing changes for us all, what will never change is the YMCA’s commitment to serve this community as we have done through good times and bad for nearly 150 years.”
Ongoing Staff Support
In addition to ensuring all furloughed full-time employees receive benefits at least through May, the YMCA has developed additional support initiatives for all staff:
- Staff Relief Fund: With incredible generosity from volunteers, donors and senior leadership, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte launched a staff relief fund and raised more than $600,000 in the first 48 hours to provide team members – primarily part-time staff – with financial assistance for immediate and essential needs such as food, housing, healthcare and transportation. To date, the fund has dispersed $182,686.
- Employment Partnerships: The YMCA also has partnered with Harris Teeter and Lowe’s Home Improvement to connect furloughed team members to immediate part-time employment opportunities during our temporary pause in operations, with the goal of team members returning to the YMCA once its facilities reopen.
- Staff Resource Hub: The YMCA’s Team Member Resource Hub provides staff updates and resources, including information about filing for unemployment benefits, access to community support agencies and more.
The YMCA also has worked tirelessly to identify critical opportunities to serve the community and put staff back to work. Most recently, the Y has engaged team members and leveraged partnerships to: