Steps to Help Your NFP Survive a Crisis

Like other businesses, nonprofits have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, these organizations are still committed to fulfilling missions, engaging with communities, and caring for employees. In the midst of a crisis, these steps can help your nonprofit organization survive and continue your important work.

  • Gather a crisis management team.  While crisis management may not usually be a major part of a nonprofit organization, it is necessary in certain situations. In the middle of a vulnerable time, it is crucial to gather and prepare a crisis management team. The team may consist of communications, legal, human resources, finance, and operations personnel, depending on the organization. These individuals can be staff members, board members, or volunteers, but will need the skills and experience necessary to maintain operations critical to the organization’s mission.
  • Assess your risk. During a crisis, nonprofits are more vulnerable to lawsuits, so this is a good time to ensure your organization is complying with all necessary regulations. Review your risk profile and take extra precautions to comply with procedures such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations to protect your organization.
  • Protect your organization’s finances. The financial impact of COVID-19 can’t be ignored, but now is the time to protect your nonprofit organization’s finances. Identify the immediate impact and cost of different programs and postpone or stop anything that isn’t critical to your mission. If possible, have six months of financial reserves available. Take advantage of any additional financial assistance available and consider reaching out to current donors for support.
  • Support your people. Employees and volunteers are essential to a nonprofit’s mission, so it is important to protect them. Make sure teams have tools needed to continue work, including technology for working remotely and protective gear if needed.
  • Keep communication open. Quick and clear communication is essential during a crisis. Be transparent and communicate more than necessary to make sure all stakeholders stay informed. Messages should be appropriately tailored for each constituency, including employees, donors, beneficiaries, and board members.
  • Make sure your infrastructure is secure. Nonprofits must operate strategically to continue to fulfill their missions, and proper infrastructure is necessary. A crisis provides an opportunity to assess your organization’s technological resources and cybersecurity efforts, to ensure private information is protected.
  • Stay adaptable. During challenging and uncertain times, organizations must stay adaptable. Pause and stay focused on the purpose and priorities of the organization. Listen to constituents to determine what is needed. Make sure your efforts are supporting the organization’s mission. If you didn’t already have crisis management tools in place, this is the time to create a contingency plan to help your organization moving forward.

Nonprofits are uniquely equipped to solve problems in a way that other organizations aren’t. Staying focused on mission and applying these best practices can help your organization weather a crisis.

Every situation is different, but we are monitoring the most recent developments and will provide updated COVID-19 information as it becomes available.  Please contact the professionals at BSB with questions. We are here to help.