As the world deals with the COVID-19 crisis, nonprofit organizations are struggling to not only weather the effects of the pandemic themselves, but also provide support to their communities during this time of great need. Due to the evolving nature of the situation, it is incredibly important for nonprofit leaders to provide consistent and adaptive leadership in order to effectively manage the situation. This involves direct collaboration and communication among the board of directors and the CEO or Executive Director to ensure that all perspectives are understood and considered.
In this blog, we’ve broken down some of the most important leadership factors that should be considered as nonprofits handle the COVID-19 epidemic. We understand that this is an uncertain and challenging time, but this guide is a good place to start when planning for your nonprofit’s future.
Communication during this time is key for not only individuals working inside and with your nonprofit, but also for the community you serve. With misleading and confusing information circulating widely throughout the internet, it can be difficult to provide all the right answers. However, employees, volunteers, supporters, and recipients of your services will look to your nonprofit for clear messaging about how COVID-19 has affected your organization. It is increasingly important to keep a keen eye out for misleading information, and act with prudence.
While communicating effectively with your beneficiaries and supporters should always be prioritized, communication between the board and executive director will be more important now than it has been in the past. During this pandemic, the board should be working closely with the executive director to manage the situation and address any external threats. While the chief executive is responsible for carrying out the board’s plans, the board must still continuously review the strategy and respond to any new threats, or unexpected curve-balls.
Risk Assessment & Management
One of our clients, BoardSource, states that, “as stewards of the organization, the board must be sensitive to the existence of risk, set the tone for dealing with it, and demand that proper processes and tools are in place to keep the organization safe and ready to act when a situation demands it.”
There are multiple aspects that must be considered when handling this type of scenario. One obvious reason for this is that nonprofits often work with beneficiaries who have a higher risk for contracting the coronavirus themselves. Such individuals could be more vulnerable to disease, and less likely to seek treatment due to lack of health insurance, and/or poverty. Additionally, many organizations rely on public events for the majority of their fundraising. Although it may be necessary for public health, canceling these events can be costly, especially for nonprofits operating with limited financial resources. As a result, risk management is essential for nonprofits in this environment.
Part of understanding what the risks are involved is also understanding how they can be navigated, or even avoided. BoardSource recommends that nonprofit leadership ask themselves the following questions as they deal with this crisis:
- What aspects of this situation could impact our organization, both now and in the future?
- What are the nonprofit’s greatest vulnerabilities?
- What questions from the press would we least like to answer?
- How can we prevent any worst-case scenarios?
Considering Volunteers & Planned Events
One potential impact that your organization might face is the loss of your volunteer workforce. Many of your volunteers may choose to stay home, rather than provide your organization with their typical level of service, especially if they are at a higher risk for complications due to COVID-19. Because of this, it is important to consider what your organization will need to do in case there is minor to substantial volunteer loss.
When it comes to any planned events that your organization may have scheduled, you will need to reevaluate factors including the nature of the event, the date it is held, or whether or not to hold the event at all. Although your jurisdiction might not have any restrictions on holding large gatherings, you will want to consider any potential liability that may result from hosting an event during a time of substantial uncertainty about public health. Regardless of the ultimate decision, be sure to let participants know how you will monitor the situation and notify them of any cancellations.
Here at Cause Inspired, we understand that this is an incredibly challenging time and the uncertainty is difficult to navigate. Our team is committed to relieving some of this burden by offering Google Ad Grant procurement and management services, as well as a variety of other digital marketing solutions for nonprofits.