Navigating COVID-19: 4 Principles for Non-Profits to Maintain a Positive Presence

Sophie Marx

Senior Account Director

In addition to the devastating loss of life that COVID-19 has inflicted upon the world, the virus will continue to have a swift and extreme impact on the economy. Across industries, financial and corporate sectors are suffering large-scale deterioration. Department stores and tech companies alike are filing for bankruptcy. And one sector that is certainly not immune? Non-Profit Organizations. With canceled fundraisers and conferences, lost donations and upended workplaces, many organizations are left to rebound on their own, with less staff, less funding, and less resources. 

While they face operational and fundraising challenges the demand for their services has never been more acute. It leads to a common set of challenges for leaders in this space.

How can you still drive donation in an economically challenging time for so many?

How can you continue to connect and serve the communities who need you now more than ever?

How can you communicate your need and impact in the current chaotic media landscape?

At Matter Unlimited we are working through these questions with our non-profit clients daily. Here are the Do’s and Don’ts that can help guide decision making during COVID-19:

  1. Don’t be silent when it comes to communicating with your current supporter base. Acknowledge the new reality, be personal in your communications, feed them stories of need and hope in equal measure.  The Obama Foundation’s My Brothers’ Keeper initiative organized a virtual Town Hall  that gathered community leaders to hear words of encouragement directly from President Obama himself.

     

  2. Do highlight the big (or small) way in which your organization is pivoting in this time. I.e. Look to other organizations like Global Citizen and how their pivot to digital with “One World: Together at Home” helped them reach 270 million people across the globe, with $127 million in donations toward WHO.

     

  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. A global crisis can unleash support from behind the usual red tape. Our Partner Imaginable Futures was able to deploy $3 million dollars in the first weeks of COVID-19 to organizations supporting learners around the globe.

  4. Do remind your audiences why your work has become even more vital during COVID-19. In such extreme moments, it’s important to show how you are impacted by the crisis, and the impact you are making.  If your organization deals with women’s reproductive health, like Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, it’s important to highlight how COVID-19 is making it difficult to deliver important care. If your organization is fighting the climate crisis, it’s important to acknowledge the parallels in the belief in science and the disproportionate effects a global crisis has on underserved communities.

The World Health Organization has made it clear that the world will not be returning to our collective ‘normal’ in the next few weeks or even months. And, more than ever, communities will rely on non-profit services to find a way to continue. Your presence, however you decide to connect, will need to be embedded with empathy, and solidarity. As Alan Carter of the Harvard Business Review writes: “The line between supporters and the supported will grow ever hazier.” We will all collectively need help, and in turn do our best to provide support to others.

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