Above all, we need to understand the value of working together during this pandemic.

Chuck Wolfe, WCA

As the HIV-Aids crisis in the 80’s helped to forge new relationship and understanding between people and agencies, like 9-11, 2001, taught the value of working together in a time of need this pandemic will re-shape nonprofits agency missions, programs, structure and outreach that will come later but now I offer some suggestions for non-profit leaders to weather this pestilence.

It depends on your nonprofit and what you do for that non-profit, are you the CEO, President, Executive Director, or Board President or others. We nonprofits will face new challenges in the weeks ahead. Nonprofits that hold large conferences, conduct in-person fundraising events, or provide training sessions may need to assess your options. Those that provide services to populations who are most at risk of acquiring the virus may be facing unique challenges in serving their communities.

What steps should nonprofits take now?

  • Communicate. First and foremost, you need to keep open lines of communications with your boards, employees, volunteers, donors, and the people you serve. As part of that, we should continue to share information and resources from credible sources, such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, We need to be transparent about our decision-making, whether remaining open for business, adjusting hours or services or making the tough decision to cancel events, temporarily close the doors or let go of staff.
  • Review your sick leave policy and, if possible, enhance the flexibility of that policy to give comfort to your employees – particularly hourly employees – about taking time off.
  • Review your organization’s business continuity and recovery plan. You don’t have one and you’re not sure where to start? Right now you are writing one keep notes when the time comes, create the plan. Our friends at Nonprofit New York have made this sample business continuity plan free for everyone to access.
    • Go virtual: While nothing is quite like face-to-face events, rather than canceling, many are making events virtual. Many organizations are using Zoom. They have recently upgraded their security protocols.
    • Keep in communication with your community partners which can help connect people with the latest credible information, as well as allow you to broadcast information to your staff or people your nonprofit needs to stay in touch with.
  • Plan for working remotely. Dust off or establish policies for remote workers and telecommuting. Remote work isn’t possible for all nonprofits. But for those where it is feasible, making this option available can help provide comfort to your employees that they can continue working without needing to draw down on their leave – and mandatory quarantines may make working remotely a necessity.
  • Take care of your organization’s finances. Conversations about sustainability have turned into conversations about survivability.  As many nonprofits look at their financial bottom line and the difficult decisions regarding what to do about staffing (and what that means both for your team and for the people you serve),
  • Participate in public decision-making. If applicable to your nonprofit’s mission, demand a seat at the table as the local government is putting together response task forces. Insist you and your partners are at the table so the needs of the people you serve are fulfilled and you can be part of the “information movement” of gathering and sharing information. Also by advocating to ensure nonprofits are included in any relief or economic stimulus package.
  • Be a voice for civility and healing. Speak out against acts of discrimination and xenophobia you see in response to this spreading disease. Please help our communities by helping to counter discrimination.
  • Take care of yourselves. As we all practice social distancing to benefit physical health, we need to be cognizant of its effects on mental health. The social aspects of our lives, from the escapes of concerts and movies to the simple opportunities to chat around the water cooler, have been upended. So, it’s important to practice self-care during this time. Encourage your organization to hold virtual staff meetings by video conference, rather than just by phone. Getting to see other faces is just a small gesture, but it’s useful.
  • Governmental  Resources. Utilize your contacts in local, state and federal government  to find out what resources are being offered to nonprofits during this pandemic.

Resources for Nonprofits

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