Three Reminders For Nonprofit Leaders During COVID-19

All across the country, nonprofit leaders are panicking. Whether they have been forced to reimagine program delivery or are seeking to understand the details of the new Nonprofit Payment Protection Program, there is confusion, stress, and anxiety at every turn.

That said, there is also a significant amount of collaboration, hope, and ingenuity coming out of the sector right now. With organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Save the Children staying connected to their core missions and showing up for those in their care, no matter what, an important metric for success is being seen in the field: unconditional love.

In this moment, with relentless care and commitment, America’s nonprofit sector is fighting for the needs of the most vulnerable in their local communities. Challenging leaders in philanthropy and government to do better by way of legislation, funding, and advocacy, nonprofits have built up strong communities of volunteers, activists, thought-leaders, academics, scientists, and other influencers to ensure resources are allocated to those that need it most. And perhaps now, during the coronavirus pandemic, it is incredibly obvious to our nation that nonprofit organizations are almost always the first to the front lines, helping those who need it most.

As the entire world seeks to reimagine itself after COVID-19, so too must our nation look to reimagine the ways in which we fund, fuel, and support the most vulnerable amongst us and the organizations who serve them. As we navigate the coming months, thinking on the day after the coronavirus pandemic ends and beginning to stabilize our communities and our country, may we remember these things below that we, as nonprofit leaders, are incredibly skilled at and that our nation may need most from us now and into the uncertain future.

You can do more with less.

My first experience at a nonprofit was helping a theater company launch a full-scale production on a very small budget. Not only did it happen, but we were still able to pay the artists a livable wage throughout the process. I’m not saying every aspect of your work can be done cheaply nor should be, but in this moment be aware of all costs. Asking for what you need to take care of your people, whether staff or clients, should be your number one priority. Let certain vendors know you need donations and discounts. Repurpose materials. Reimagine service delivery. Streamline your processes. Ask those who have the power and privilege to give more to do so and to give more boldly than ever before. Find the savings where you can and at the same time, ask for what you need to keep your mission alive.

You are great at collaborating.

Many nonprofit organizations are working to shift their cultures to ones that carry an abundance mindset. This means shifting to a belief that there are enough resources for all and collaboration is key to success. Even if resources feel limited in the coming weeks and months, let us not hold back from sharing and supporting each other. Our sector may emerge, if it hasn’t already, as a driving force to invite others across the country to collaborate more effectively and more creatively for overall societal well-being.

This too shall pass.

Every nonprofit goes through a process of defining its mission, vision and values. For many, the vision is a dream, something that feels a little unobtainable but it is that something the organization strives for. Some organizations seek to eliminate poverty while others work to achieve a vision of a planet with clean air, where pollution no longer exists. As our world slows down and works together, your organization’s vision may slowly feel as if it can become a reality in this lifetime. Take note of these learnings so that when this moment passes, we stay on a path to not only fulfilling our missions but realizing our true vision with the knowledge that it is actually possible.

As the entire nation faces an uncertain future, let us continue to think abundantly and drive change. The role of the nonprofit sector is to care and advocate for the most vulnerable amongst us. Let’s keep up the good fight and be the type of savvy, strong, loving leaders this moment requires of us.