ACTIONS AND RESOURCES FOR NONPROFITS How might the outbreak affect nonprofits?
As key service providers and organizations in frequent contact with the community, nonprofits may potentially face these and other impacts: increased and sustained staff and volunteer absences; disruption of services to your clients and communities; disruption of supplies or services provided by your partners; cancellation of programs or events (and corresponding reduced revenue); increased demand for services/support from your clients and communities; and budgetary implications related to strains on the economy. What can nonprofits in Massachusetts do to respond?
Nonprofits should consider rescheduling or canceling programs or events, revisiting their work from home and sick leave policies, and thinking through ways to effectively communicate COVID-related updates with employees and other stakeholders. Nonprofits should also stay informed throughout the duration of the outbreak from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Rescheduling or cancelling programs or events
Effective Sunday, March 15, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has banned gatherings of over 25 people. The order also banned in-house consumption in restaurants and bars, and closed public schools for the next three weeks (until April 5). Nonprofits should familiarize themselves with the full language of the ban here and stay up to date with news reports. Additional considerations for rescheduling or cancelling programs and events include: Determine a deadline for making a decision about whether or not to cancel a program and event. Determine if the program or event can be hosted virtually (e.g. a webinar or live stream). See below for resources:
Resources for virtual events and fundraisers: Free webinar: “What am I supposed to do about my fundraising event?” (from the Washington Nonprofit Institute)
Auctria – online fundraising / auction platform
CauseVid – nonprofit video email platform, now with a free version for nonprofits
Give Lively – free fundraising platform
Funraise – online fundraising platform / donor database
GiveSmart – online auction / event software
“13 innovative fundraising ideas for nonprofits & Charities” (CauseVox)
“Web conferencing 101 for nonprofits” (TechSoup)
Comcast is opening its Xfinity WiFi Network for free, and is offering unlimited data for free for two months. They are also offering new, low-income Internet Essentials customers with two months of free internet. Learn more.
LogMeIn (the parent company of GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar) is now offering its web conferencing software free to eligible entities–including front-line nonprofits, eligible healthcare providers, educational institutions, and municipalities–for the next 3 months. Learn more.
Consider when, how, and how often to communicate with program participants or event attendees, sponsors, and partners. Ask donors to convert sponsorships and ticket sales to donations, rather than refunds. See guidance on how to do so from AAFCPAs here. Consider the impact of canceling a program or event on revenue, including whether or not to explore event insurance to mitigate the costs of a major event cancellation (e.g. fundraising events). (See “What you need to know about coronavirus and special event insurance” from Insureon.)Manage contracts with event venues, caterers, and other event stakeholders. (See “Managing Contractual Relationships During the COVID-19 Crisis: Force Majeure Clauses and Other Approaches” from Hemenway & Barnes.)
Read the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak.” Revisit work from home and sick leave policies
Nonprofits may be considering adjustments to or implementations of a work from home policy out of concern for their employees’ health. Nonprofits should: Read the United Way of Massachusetts Bay’s comprehensive listing, “Remote Work Resources for Nonprofits.” Review their policies related to illness and sick leave to ensure that they are consistent with public health recommendations. Prepare for the possibility of increased numbers of employee absences by updating or creating policies that support remote work and create systems for employees to utilize the option. If a nonprofit does not currently have a work from policy and wants to draft one, see a sample remote work policy on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s website here for use as a template. Read the CDC’s “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the Coronavirus Disease.” Read Littler’s “Coronavirus: Employer Action Items.” Communicate
Nonprofits play an important role in educating and reassuring employees, volunteers, and other stakeholders. Talk with your team. Reassure your team that you care about their health and safety. Make telecommuting options available for as many employees as possible. For businesses in which telecommuting is not an option or for particular duties that cannot be performed remotely, follow poper steps above to limit close contact, and prevent the spread of disease. Urge employees to stay home if sick. Promote good hygiene (washing hands frequently, covering coughs, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, etc.). Remind employees of your organization’s policies related to illness and sick leave, and be flexible with sick leave benefits for those who are ill or who are recommended to stay home because they are high risk. Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen. Be mindful that different members of your team may perceive the threat differently or have special concerns based on their life circumstances. For example, persons with elderly family members may be especially concerned, and Asian Americans are likely facing increased racism. Leaders should be prepared to recognize, respond to and prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality regarding the health of specific employees. Speak out if you see this happening. (Seattle & King County Public Health developed a great infographic.) Read the Communications Network’s free “Coronavirus Crisis Communications Triage Kit” for how to communicate about the disease clearly, accurately, and effectively. Stay informed Read, listen to, and watch the news, and regularly check reputable sources such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and US CDC. Reference the World Health Organization’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. Read the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease Read the CDC’s Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response Visit OSHA’s information page on COVID-19. Nonprofit Risk Management Center has put out COVID-19: 5 Things to Know & Do Subscribe to MNN’s newsletter or follow our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn feeds. We’ll continue to share resources and recommendations about how organizations can prepare and respond. Financial planning COVID-19 Tools and Resources for Nonprofits. Includes easy-to-use tools to help nonprofits determine cash flows, determine operating expenses, and surpluses/deficits – Nonprofit Finance Fund COVID-19 FAQs for Nonprofits – BerryDunn Other resources Nonprofit Resources List “#NPCOVID19” – open-sourced Google document containing additional resources, tools, and more to help nonprofits respond to COVID-19. JazzHR, an online hiring platform, is now offering free services for free essential care providers. Learn more. Hemenway and Barnes – how to hold a member meeting when you can’t meet in person Chamber of Commerce – Coronavirus Small Business Issues and Solutions Guide Bringfood Initiative – Bringfood is designed to help food pantries (and others) respond to the need for home delivery services brought on by COVID-19.