Up until March of 2020, most nonprofits probably felt they had everything in control. Sure, some were struggling, which is natural in any field of endeavor. Most established nonprofits had their budgets in place, their marketing and fundraising campaigns thought out for the year and their grant application deadlines on the calendar. After a robust economic upsurge, donation projects seemed optimistic.
And then, the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans were scrapped. Calendars, revised. Staff learned how to telecommute, and nonprofits learned how to do more with even less than they had before. And somewhere in this mix is the lurking thought: can we survive this?
Organizations everywhere are discovering ways to weather the COVID-19 storm. As your organization continues to operate and looks forward to reopening, it’s time to focus on ways to re-establish your organization once the green light is given by the authorities to resume business as usual (albeit with a mask and plenty of hand sanitizer.)
3 Steps to Organize Your Nonprofit for Re-Opening
- Prepare your action plan: What steps will you need to take before, during, and after reopening? If you’ve been keeping in close contact with your leadership team during the pandemic, you’ll already have plenty of ideas for prioritizing the organization’s needs during the reopening. Consider convening a conference call or video call now with your organization’s leadership team to talk through a vision of what the organization will look like during and after reopening. Consider adding the following questions to the meeting agenda:
- How will you prioritize programs and services?
- When will you resume in-person events and activities?
- Will specific precautions be needed if you resume in-person activities?
- Do you need to review insurance plans to make sure they cover problems due to COVID-19?
- Will you continue to allow telecommuting after the pandemic ends?
- What is the organization’s current financial status?
- Do you need to change fundraising activities, programs, or plans?
- These are just a few questions to spark the discussion. Give thought to all areas of the organization, including programs and services, grants and fundraising, marketing, human resources, accounting, and finance. What will each need? What changes are necessary for a smooth reopening and the continuation of operations after opening day?
- Work with your grant professional: Grant professionals may need additional support right now as they scramble to address shifting deadlines and application processes. Ensure that they have the information they need to accurately and thoroughly complete grant applications. If you have cloud-based systems, you will find it easier to access materials remotely. They may also be the point person to access emergency federal, state, and foundation funds and should be given full support to do so if necessary, for your organization.
- Constituent outreach: Planning for reopening is not just about how your organization will handle its business matters. Staff should reach out to constituents and check in with them to assess what they need now and in the future. Their needs may have changed from the services you offered pre-pandemic. A phone call provides a more personal touch than an email or mass mailing. Invite constituents to ask questions and share concerns. Be sure to provide staff with a list of alternative service providers if your organization cannot serve everyone right now. A list of local resources, similar resources, or whatever you feel may be helpful to your constituents should be shared among the staff making outreach phone calls so that they have useful information on hand when they begin making calls.
Remain Responsive and Flexible
Everyone hopes for a swift reopening. The likelihood is that some areas of the country may face stops and starts as sections reopen, causing them to deal with a resurgence of the disease, and to issue new stay-at-home orders until the next wave of the pandemic passes.
Remain flexible and responsive to the changing conditions in your city and community. Keep your team’s focus on how they can achieve the organization’s mission, and you’ll find others respond creatively to any new challenges that arise.
If you’d like some help with nonprofit planning, contact Welter Consulting. Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please at 206-605-3113 for more information.