COVID-19 has knocked most Non-Profits off balance. Donations are down. Requests for services are up. Organizations which often have a tentative future are now in even more jeopardy. If non-profits are going to be able to continue meeting their mission in the future, they need to reset now. Boards and management teams need to do the following:
- Planning for a reset – What will your organization look like in the new normal? How will you meet your mission? What staffing will you need? Will you need different skill sets? What will your technology requirements be? How much money will you need and how will you raise that money? These questions need to be answered in order to move forward successfully. You should answer these questions for different time periods – immediate (3 – 6 months), mid-term (six months — one year) and long term (up to three years). You should have a dedicated team of management and board members to systematically answer these questions and develop plans for sustainability. This group should plan to meet weekly, with assignments to members between meetings, with a goal of finishing the plan and starting implementation within the next 6 – 8 weeks. Financing will be the most critical in the short term and you need to conduct a detailed analysis of your cash flow.
- Communications – You should be communicating with your board, staff, funders, government officials, and the people that you serve. You need to have a communications plan for each of your shareholders that includes messaging, timing and frequency of communications and mode of communication (phone, email). Some potential topics for those communications include: how your organization is responding to COVID-19, the struggles that you are facing and the impact that COVID is having on meeting your mission. Now is the time to restart your donor development efforts. It is important to talk to your electeds to see how they can help access funding and so that they understand the impact this is having on your ability to meet your mission and the impact on the people that you serve.
All of this must be done with facts and must be reality based. Your organization will need to make some incredibly difficult decisions, including the possibility for staff reductions, closing some programs, merging with another organization or shutting down. Now is the time for bold leadership. Taking action and being proactive is the best way to ensure that your organization can continue to meet its mission, by providing essential programs and support critical to the health and wellbeing of the people throughout our fine community.