As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe and communities, nonprofits are tasked with ensuring safe operations while still carrying out their mission and adding to their workload.
While we continue to work towards containing infections and prevent panic, there are challenges at the forefront that nonprofits are facing. Events have been cancelled or rescheduled, and many staff now work remotely. There is also the issue of shortage in funding, given the current state of the economy.
The sudden spread of this virus has revealed several weaknesses within nonprofits and our society, thereby bringing to fore the things we need to get a better grasp on. Now is the time to use this opportunity to learn and strengthen our work. In light of this, I have put together seven things nonprofits need to consider during this COVID-19 Era:
- Consent is Key
Regardless of the emergency measures taken during this pandemic, whatever you do as nonprofits, do not forget to get consent from the appropriate authorities. Involve them in the decision-making processes. Nonprofits in countries such as the UK will need to get additional approval from the Charity Commission. In contrast, in the US, nonprofits will need to obtain necessary permits and licenses from either state or federal agencies, and so on.
For instance, when there is a humanitarian crisis, such as the current global pandemic, development organizations and international NGOs aren’t allowed to enter a country they previously did not operate within. If such nonprofits wish to provide any support, they’ll need to get an invite by the country or send an offer for approval.
- Staff Management
In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) states the obligation of employers to ensure safe, hazard-free, and healthy working conditions. Nonprofits need to keep in mind that the “workplace” isn’t restricted to the physical office but includes fieldwork where the organization’s business occurs. In light of the current pandemic, nonprofits should look over OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
Also, because staff need to work more remotely now, additional thought should be put in when crafting employee policies regarding remote work and travel. Writing review services can be recruited via websites such as Online Writers Rating to help draft policies accurately. Furthermore, as employee health status is usually private, organizations may not be aware of any underlying health conditions of their employees.
Thus, accurate and consistent communication with staff is crucial at this time. Employees should feel safe to report if they’re experiencing symptoms and must also inform other employees of any reported exposures.
- Navigating Funding
Another significant COVID-19 impact on nonprofits is how to navigate fundraising and adjust to cutbacks from donor purses. However, there are safe alternatives that can still bring in the funds needed and ensure that the show goes on.
- Donation Page: With restrictions on large gatherings, having a donation page on your website will be more critical than ever.
- Traditional Peer-to-Peer: Have supporters set up social media pages to fundraise on your nonprofit’s behalf.
- Live-stream Events: Using tools such as Facebook, Instagram Live, Zoom, etc., you can host online concerts, board meetings, or press conferences, etc.
- Simple Crowdfunding Campaign: A lasting impact on the organization’s budget can be made by creating a simple crowdfunding campaign.
- Insurance and Event Cancellation
As most nonprofits face having to cancel events, redesign projects, and other business interruption, insurance may be beneficial right now. Nonprofits organizations need to reach out to their insurance providers and make inquiries about coverage details and limits and better understand insurance policies carefully.
For example, if a NGO had previously obtained an event cancellation insurance policy to cover specific events, it needs to check if there is an exclusion for infectious diseases such as the coronavirus. Furthermore, nonprofits should give timely notice to their insurance providers, keep accurate records, track expenses, and carefully document losses. Also, bear in mind that both external and internal communications are open in the event of any litigation. This is because communication between insurance brokers and agents is not privileged communication.
- Find Out From Host Communities What Their Most Pressing Needs Are
Understandably, nonprofits work within thematic areas and donor terms of reference. However, there isn’t a better time than the present to reach out and listen to the communities you are trying to impact.
From experience, I have gathered that community residents and leaders are often in a better position to know how they are affected by pandemics such as COVID-19. They have a better idea of what would be helpful but lack the resources or clout to get things done. During this pandemic, nonprofits can use their networks of donors and partners to gather information on the support these communities need and share resources.
- Create more Effective Public Information Campaigns Aimed At Hard To Reach Audiences
Several communities are often skeptical or even suspicious of charitable systems based on experiences of stigmatization, exclusion, bias, or poor care they might have received in the past. Now more than ever, nonprofits need to tailor their projects to overcome this wariness, increase community engagement and trust in public health organizations. There is also the need to uptake the adoption of recommended practices and proper circulation of COVID-19 information.
Additionally, nonprofits need to ensure accurate and timely information for amplification to constituents and communities. Public education messages should be made available in multiple languages and through channels that will reach often excluded groups.
- Binding Legal Contracts
The pandemic’s sudden spread may be described as a force majeure (an act of G-d). This means that some contract provision might set aside performance when supervening events outside of the party’s control occur and prevents or impedes performance. Clauses for flexible circumstances may excuse “illegal, inadvisable, impracticable, or impossible” contracts. And others might be limited to a period in which performance is excused.
Nonprofits with standing contracts might want to consider obtaining legal advice regarding specific circumstances or excused performance. A legal rep may also help the nonprofits come up with a plan for reaching out to each vendor to see if contracts can be renegotiated or terminated. Compliance with all contract notice provisions and any other clauses that may require the mitigation of damages should be given a second look.
We must continue to put in our best to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect the most vulnerable. As you navigate these uncertain times as nonprofits, you’re not alone, and there is a path forward!
Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at review service Best Writers Online. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education.