It is now very clear that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact us all. Everyone, regardless of age or health, has a role to play in slowing the spread of this virus. I’ve compiled some information from nonprofit associations around the country to share with you to help your organization prepare and respond to this pandemic.
How might COVID-19 impact your organization?
- Cancellation of programs or events, including fundraisers.
- Staff and volunteer absences due to illness, caregiving responsibilities, school closures, etc.
- Disruption of supplies or services provided by you or by your partners.
- Increased demand for services/support from your clients and communities
- Budgetary implications related to all the above as well as strains on the economy.
What should your organization be doing – RIGHT NOW?
Management – Meet with your staff:
- Let them know you care about their safety and that you are monitoring the situation in case you need to make changes to workflow and delivery of services and programs.
- Stress actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including washing hands with soap and water, avoiding touching eyes/nose/mouth, disinfecting surfaces, staying home if sick and following other CDC recommendations. Post this information in employee and public areas.
- Make it easy for people to practice good hygiene by providing tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles and placing alcohol-based hand rubs in multiple places in common spaces.
- Remind employees of your policies related to sick leave; enhance the flexibility of the policy if possible.
- Be mindful that different members of your team may perceive the threat differently or have special concerns based on their life circumstances. It is important to honor and respect that.
- Encourage everyone to stay calm and stay informed and speak out to counter discrimination and xenophobia.
- For organizations that can accommodate remote workers, review your policies and make sure you have the tools and resources ready if needed. Mandatory quarantines may make working remotely a necessity. If you don’t have a policy, I can help you develop one.
- Review your organization’s continuity and recovery plan. If you don’t have one and aren’t sure where to start, Nonprofit New York developed made this sample plan free for everyone to access.
What if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at work?
- Employees who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance on how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform employees of their possible exposure in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the American with Disabilities Act.
- Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
It is important that you are informed and prepared about public health issues that could impact your staff, clients and community. For updated information on COVID-19 and the impact to nonprofit organizations, please visit the National Council of Nonprofits.
Amidst the sea of emails carrying cancellations and tips for safeguarding your health against COVID-19, I want to offer you some considerations for safeguarding your mission and livelihood during this temporary setback. I’ve made a list of things to begin doing THIS WEEK that will position you competitively once we transition back to some normalcy.
Positivity gives you power
What’s the old adage? Oh, that’s right: “We become what we believe”. At a time like this, we need to resist the urge to believe the sky is falling. Instead, seek all the examples of why the opposite is true. Folks, we don’t have a playbook to rely on for COVID-19 and we’re heading into uncharted waters. I DO know that our emotional, mental and behavioral attitudes and mindset are our most powerful antidotes and change agents.
Stay the course
Your mission is even more important today than ever before. This isn’t the time to stop your campaign work. If you are in a campaign or contemplating one – ask yourself this – is your need legitimate? If so, stay the course! (If your answer to that was no, let’s chat.) This isn’t the time to abandon your greatest mission needs. Your constituency is depending on you. Your donors would not want you to. And, they might desire more flexibility and creativity as they navigate a new normal.
Look at this as an opportunity to strengthen and fortify your organization’s infrastructure. Most importantly, look at this as an opportunity to solidify your relationship with your donors.
- Continue your donor cultivation and solicitation efforts – but offer options for gifts that are more flexible. Here’s an example: secure that pledge now but allow it to begin later this year.
- Consider reversing your strategy order and start your planned giving program earlier than intended.
- Use any extra time to cultivate and solicit. Why? Because we all know a good portion of our donors and prospects need extra knowledge-building and cultivation.
- Deploy those stewardship plans!It’s time to really turn up the extra attention and communication – especially related to how your mission might relate to crisis issues and responses like this one.
Lead, communicate, listen, repeat.
These are confusing times and your supporters likely have family and jobs and all kinds of things to worry about. If you don’t reach out regularly and keep them tethered to the mission, they could easily drift away.
- Contact your donors to let them know how much you value them and their support, especially in times of distress or ambiguity.
- Do this 1:1 with key donors (and take advantage of technology like FaceTime and remote meeting platforms).
- Ask your board chair to make a new gift to demonstrate commitment to the cause and vision for the future.
Express your mission digitally.
This doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive.
- Record a small performance and post it on-line.
- Provide a little-known factoid about your nonprofit and share it on social media (when you started, your first ED, amount of your first donation, how many dogs are supporters, make it fun!)
- Pull out some older photos of group activities and re-post them with new insight or narrative.
- Give your supporters that program update that’s long overdue.
- Develop a survey.
You’ve got the material. Re-purpose it to keep energy and activity (and needs) high!
Keep your major gift efforts front and center – do not dial them back, just pivot the purpose.
Instead of going for the ask, use a virtual meeting to inform your donor of recent accomplishment or dive deeper into the project at hand.
Ensure your team and department are functioning optimally.
Become a best practice! Consider conducting a quick assessment and creating a new strategy so that when things turn around (as we all know they will – remember the Great Recession?) you are first out of the gate!
Later this week, I’ll be posting some information about safety, policies and cash flow that may be affecting you right now. Stay tuned in my newsletter, on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram for updates.
Things are changing on a daily (hourly?) basis. Keep calm and carry on with your nonprofit you’ve worked so hard to build. If you are confused, overwhelmed or need resources, schedule a FREE call with me and we can work through this new phase.