COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on so many things and as the number of deaths continues to rise as the curve flattens, here at Orgboosters we are trying to help as many of our nonprofit partners as possible. While there was not much time to prepare for the lockdown nonprofits can be planning now on how to come out stronger as the restrictions begin to lift.
- Fiscal Planning-We have always subscribed to the best practice theory that nonprofits should have at least six months of reserve operating capital-because let’s face it-emergencies and crisis are not something new. Funding streams change, emergencies happen and nonprofits who provide essential services need to still function in all times. So, if COVID-19 has made you realize that you do not have enough adequate capital to sustain funding freezes, take steps now to plan for contingencies. There are many different no-interest loans available now during COVID-19 for nonprofit organizations. Take the time to complete budget projections, determine how much capital is needed and if a no-interest loan is appropriate for your organization. One resources is the Garden State Relief Fund. The New Jersey Community Capital launched the Garden State Relief Fund to meet the immediate needs of small businesses and nonprofits critically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For as long as there is a need in the community, there are supporters of nonprofits creating resources and funding to make sure that essential services continue to be delivered in an effective way.
- Strategic Planning-Can you plan in an emergency? Absolutely, while it looks different than a full strategic plan, contiguous planning is critical. During these difficult times, you may find that your nonprofit wants to meet an emerging or immediate need in the community. Now is the time to look at your programs and services to ensure your agency is relevant. Do you have resources that can fill an urgent, current, unmet need? Now is the time to jump in and demonstrate to the community why you are in existence-to serve a particular population, strengthen the community, whatever your mission, planning in an emergency is necessary to ensure that you do not miss an opportunity to fulfill your mission, even if it means a temporary pivot. Think about new partnerships and collaborations that may be possible in this environment, be flexible and be nimble and think about meeting the most urgent needs in the community.
- Catalog and Communicate-Determine what your needs are during this time and communicate them to donors, staff, and the community. What do you need to deliver services? What are the needs in the community that need additional resources? Let the community know what you are doing but also what you need. How are you changing lives? How has your organization changed during the pandemic. Share stories. Make your team part of the messaging, demonstrating their determination and spirit that makes your organization shine. Communicate often. During busy times we often get so busy doing our job that we forget to tell people what that job is-it’s critical to keep in contact with donors, constituents, funders and the community. Use your voice.
- Grants-Many generous donors, foundations, corporations, and individuals are giving generously, creating funds to deal with COVID-19 issues and some of the unintended consequences. Be certain to review potential funding opportunities and aggressively seek those funds. Many of the grants available for COVID-19 have short windows of time for applications to be completed. You can be prepared to complete these applications by having your essential documents ready, ensuring your board has emergency approvals in place for resolutions, or other board approval that may be needed so you can compete for these opportunities. At Orgboosters, we have completed many different COVID related grant applications, if you can’t do this in-house, turn to a consultant rather than miss these opportunities.
- Technology-Make it a priority to address any technology gaps that may be evident during COVID-19, having the resources and tools to support remote work, policies, and expertise is critical to keep operations flowing. Determine where those gaps are and add the necessary resources. Now is not the time to have a cyberattack! Make certain you have the policies in place to prevent this from happening. Do you have a provider that can help, call on them now. Did you always mean to update your Youtube channel, but never got around to it? Now is the time to use technology optimally, online fundraising, remote training, synchronous communication, it is all possible, and so much more! Review your policies and practices in this area and adjust accordingly.
You can thrive during times of disaster, crisis and even pandemic times. Go confidently. Be flexible. Thrive. We are here to support nonprofits now and in the future. Feel free to reach out to one of our Orgbooster representatives if you need help in any of these areas.
Sources: Garden State Relief Fund: https://www.newjerseycommunitycapital.org/initiatives/garden-state-relief-fund?fbclid=IwAR3RDCXs7lleL6MeSHda-NF9wU4PzobV144U0WjA6xb60J1kw8BRatByrbo