17. Post-Coronavirus Stability/Recovery—Surviving 2020 and Thriving into the Future!
Helping Keep Local Non-Profits Afloat Amid COVID-19;
A 12-Step Suggested Plan for Your Nonprofit Organization. . .
by Robert J. (Bob) Vickers, Founder/President, Artful Askers, bob@ArtfulAskers.com
Remember, almost 2.3 million nonprofits and churches and 300 million Americans
are ALL in the same boat as you are.
It is estimated 18% to 32% of nonprofits won’t survive 2020.
Most, if not all nonprofits, will see a HUGE decline in support due to loss of jobs.
Very little “new giving” will take place during 2020.
Even though Congress is considering enhances giving regulations, few expect results soon!
It is a fact of life in the world we are currently living in and the bizarre events happening around us—it is a tough time. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic we are in the midst of is having a devastating impact on the economy and has greatly affected the ability of charitable organizations and churches to provide much-needed services to their communities. Other current events (including political campaigns) are only complicating the current crisis!
The need is unprecedented—but the barriers are numerous and profound! At the same time, the impact of all on the economy and the stock market is also dramatic—many Donors have lost one-third of their wealth as reflected in the stock market and leading indicators! This downturn will result in a reduction in contributions and other sources of revenue which are the lifeblood of many charitable nonprofit organizations.
Most nonprofits and churches are front-line responders providing food, shelter, housing and utility assistance, medical services and other critical services to those in need in their communities and addressing all Pillars of Poverty either independently or in concert with others. At this critical time when the American people and government will depend even more on charitable nonprofits, contributions are likely to decrease as happened in previous recessions. Without dramatic and immediate financial and programmatic decision-making and resulting behavior change, America's nonprofits and the people we serve face a decline in mission services at a time when our efforts are needed like never before by the most vulnerable in our communities. Here are a dozen suggestions to help yourself and your nonprofit organization:
Keep serving and giving “in-kind” if you can, BUT stop spending money. Prioritize!
1.. Tighten expenses. . . Prioritize everything, spend smartly, thriftly: 1) employees/staff, 2) insurance 3) rent/utilities, hold off other non-emergency expenditures.
2. Email your supporters and Donors explaining your situation. If you don’t have email addresses, write a letter to a designated number of them. In an email, be brief, tell them what is going on with your continuing to serve but scaling back. Do same in a letter only tell a couple “survival stories.” 1.5- to 2-page long MAX sharing victories and challenges but providing hope for the future! Ask them to help if they can. Sign it and hand address the envelope in blue ink. We have several samples if you are interested OR can do this letter for you for $250.
3. Care for those that have donated to you—businesses, restaurants, individuals, etc. If you spend, spend with them. Spend money at local places who have supported you in your past events. Support them now during this time! Ask for nothing in return. Encourage them, assure them, challenge them, provide hope for them during this time, too. Maybe you can even Volunteer for one day a week to help them clean, remodel, paint or something they need.
4. Explore opportunities and make a plan: corporations, government loans and or grants, civic groups, other nonprofits. Utilize corporations and others if they are doing something. Inquire how you can participate and engage them.
5. Write current and existing Grantmakers, Donors, Volunteers and Supporters. Update them and connect with them. Tell them you remain committed BUT are obeying the laws and monitoring the situation. Assure them of your longevity and continuing your mission with passion at all costs. Again, write them a Donor Education and Update letter (See #2 above).
6. Write current and existing Individual Donors. Same as #5 AND #2 above.
7. Offer a 3- to 5-page proposal for their review. See Samples Manual and templates. If you don’t have this, NOW is the time to get one ready. Bob can help you for an affordable price—call and ask him about it. Or ask for and receive the template he teaches people to use for free at bob@ArtfulAskers.com. Artful Askers offers a USB of 45 REALLY GOOD Sample Proposals for $75.
8. Ask for leads and/or referrals of Board Members, friends, supporters, and others, if possible. Make certain to write a Thank You note (handwritten in blue ink)! Make certain to receipt people who give money to you within 5 to 7 working days utilizing an I.R.S.-sufficient Thank you Note.
9. Develop a new List of Requests (Individual, businesses, churches, other organizations with who you cooperate and collaborate and other). See Samples Manual with brief letters/request and samples on USB.
10. Write elected officials. Local, State and National. Update them and ask for their help. See below. Write politicians either emails through their portals (they prefer), calls and/or one-page letters (which are most powerful—DO ALL 3! America's charitable nonprofits need an immediate infusion of $60 billion in capital to maintain operations, expand scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country. We urge you to write your State and United States Senators and Representatives and tell them how this crisis is affecting your organization, your employees and the people you serve, and tell them what to do about it. Writing your Senators and Representatives is easy—just google them and you will be linked to their information OR search the core sites by your State and you will find the federal officials and officeholders.
The message is easy: The opening paragraph should address who you are and what you are doing and helping them to understand what this pandemic is doing to the ability of “my nonprofit to serve our community members and your constituents.” In a short paragraph or so, briefly tell your story.
In the second and third paragraph, tell how you impact the people in your community and empower them to be successful. How you work with others and leverage the partnerships for greater impact and transformation. Then, close with something like, “I urge you to include the policy solutions proposed by the nonprofit community in any COVID-19 relief and stimulus legislation in the future. Yes, it was in earlier package BUT went way too fast for most smaller nonprofits to get any help. The well-being and recovery of our targeted population and our State is at stake here and our charitable nonprofits are the people who can turn this around. But we need the help of government now. Include a story or two. . . We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to operate as long as we are able to provide a safe environment for young people (or whomever). As always, we place the safety of our children, youth, families and staff at the highest level. As an organization, we are working hard to be a reliable partner for our families and the families of those emergency health care, public safety, and essential service workers.
11. Reassess your marketing steps and impact for the next 12 months. Did you ever think you would see a day like these we are currently living in? We are in the Twilight Zone these days with all that's going on, but should we just stick your head in the sand when marketing? Definitely not. Here are a few opinions on what you can do during these trying times:
--Unless the media is giving you advertising for free because of past sponsorships or public service time, turn off and stop all advertising and publicity that are "irrelevant" during this time (travel, furniture, auto, radio, television, etc.) and use that money to sure-up preparation for the public health crisis and use the money to support your employees, customers, and secondarily the community at large. If you are working with their grant dollars, continue to steward them appropriately and don’t stop what you have promised to do. But do try to be conservative and scale back. Communicate this with your Donor or grant-maker.
--Nonprofits should remind people how they impact their community and they need "to restock." All funds or donated items are vital. Where? On social media, most definitely, but a message to your database is key. Communicate to your supporters and Donors that you are being lawful, cautious and careful BUT also conserving as much as possible. This is the time to tap your foundation of folks who have an affinity for you. Advertising to reach new donors may not work now until the recovery has time in the markets. Remember, wealthy people have lost one-third of the wealth in the country with the markets of early 2020.
--If you have a good story, this is when PR is most effective in the media. Get your story out there. Use Facebook ads and other medium to communicate your story. Make certain to have the appropriate releases, though.
--All the restaurants and small companies that normally donate to your raffles and fundraisers will now need your support. Order take-out through them, or maybe use your social power to help get their name out there as well. Thank a different previous support and advocate for people to utilize them during this time (and tip big)!
--You, your Board Members and Staff and supporters MUST remain positive and speak positive in EVERY Way during this time. Don’t put others down! Be kind, other-oriented and VERY expressive. Meet a bit more often and find common-sense solutions to help yourselves (and others) get through this crisis!
12. We encourage you to acquire a mentor, coach and helper to bounce ideas off of and develop future plans. . . We offer several retainer packagaes for you to help you and mentor you.
Questions, Additional Information or Need Help? Email us!
Please remember: Bob is an educator NOT a consultant. He will help you gain the knowledge, learn what to do and how to get ready, help you with a written document, engage in the process and help you to help yourself. He will help you to be successful such that you can help yourself and others, too!
www.PerceptionFunding.org (online learning platform for Christian Ministries under Tab: E-Courses)
www.GiveTransform.org (online giving platform for Christian Ministries)