There is strong evidence to suggest that the worst isn’t over. Many have tried to compare the pandemic with a natural disaster and utilize similar strategies to respond and recover. This pandemic could be compared with some of the most significant natural disasters in recent history, like Hurricane Katrina for example. As with that major event, the actual hurricane wasn’t the scary part – it was what happened afterwards.
We are in the eye of this storm and we have opportunities to regroup, replenish and prepare for a long road ahead.
As we all struggle to fight the onslaught of challenges brought on by COVID-19, let us not bury our heads in the fear, but look up and look forward and prepare for the realities we are now facing.
Let’s look at some sobering facts and begin to explore what we should be doing to prepare.
What does this mean for you? It means that the nonprofit sector will have more people to take care of. People will have to struggle to meet their basic needs and pay their rent. Foreclosures and evictions will increase. Our food pantries will be busy. Substance abuse and domestic violence will increase and so will child abuse cases. Mental health needs will increase. Now more than ever, you should be exploring and addressing any disparities to who and how your mission is delivered.
What can you do? Stay informed about what is going on at the state and national level. Watch for updates from resources like the Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan League for Public Policy. Now is the time to be heard and use our collective voices. Know how every decision impacts you and the organizations that matter to those you serve.
What does this mean for you? It means if nonprofits who rely on state or government contracts, could experience delayed payments or even the cancelling of contracts. It means that some of the people we have been partnering with might not be able to hold up their end of the agreement.
What can you do? Check your financial history. Go back to 2008-2012 and review what happened to your funding sources. Were your payments delayed or were contracts decreased or cancelled? One thing to remember is that COVID-19 has changed the rules of this game – our legislators are less likely to cut education funding because our schools need more, not less, to get our kids back in the classroom. So that means things that were safe last time might not be this go-around. Make a contingency plan that will allow you to act quickly when the new budget details are revealed.
What does this mean for you? It means that if a nonprofit has relied on large fundraising events, that income will not return this year. Programs that rely on people gathering will be significantly impacted.
What can you do? Revisit your mission and remember that the programs you currently deliver are just one way you achieve your mission. Now is the time to change your fundraising strategy – if you haven’t already – and develop a vibrant individual donor program.
Nonprofit Sector Health
What does this mean for you? Some of us will not survive. And this will mean that our communities will rely on support provided by less organizations. Fewer support services will mean more individuals will struggle to navigate systems and receive services.
What can you do? Check on your neighbors, partners and friends. Understand who might be in jeopardy. Become more efficient, and eliminate waste: time, energy and resources. Continue to develop contingency plans. Affirm your organizational and institutional values so you know what to protect.
If you are an Executive Director, you need to gather your data and evaluate your risks. Your board members need to meet, regularly, and you need to begin preparing them for hard decisions. You will need to help them make difficult cuts. You need to ask for help.
If you are a board member, you need to check in with your Executive Director. They are not OK. The burden is enormous. They are managing the impacts to your clients, employees, the organization, the community and the threat to not only their livelihoods, but life’s passion and work.
For some organizations, drastic cuts and dissolution's are on the horizon. They might see it – they might not. They can’t do this alone.
We have upcoming workshops that will help you (see below).
Critical Conversations for Nonprofits
As with any severe storm, the world will look different afterwards. We will emerge, changed and not quite the same, but stronger and smarter and understand how to be better equipped for the next one.
Call us if you need help, we will brave the storm together.
If your organization needs help with planning, feel free to reach out to us, it's what we do. As always, we’re here to help you make the world a better place. Call 517-796-4750 or email us today! We're happy to help!
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*NN's ED Regina Pinney adds her thoughts and voice behind this week's blog; Facebook Link
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