Nonprofit Leadership and COVID-19

If you lead a nonprofit, a church or missions organization or NGO, etc., how are you thinking about the future?

I have started thinking about worst case scenarios, and I think most of what I’ve thought of will be applicable to ANY nonprofit, donor-financed organization.  Here are the three main scenarios I’ve thought of.

1. The damage to the economy will affect donors and their support for nonprofits.  Even if the economic damage is short-lived, e.g. the economy is recovering by the end of the summer, nonprofits that went into the crisis short on cash will be in big trouble.

How will your organization survive?  Can you take care of your people and continue to carry out your mission?  Have you made changes to cut overhead?  Can some of those changes become permanent, so that you can be more efficient in the future?

2. COVID-19’s effects on public health continue to grow more serious.  Say there is lasting health damage to a significant percentage of those who recover, e.g., permanent lung damage. Or perhaps there are more deaths than are currently projected (God forbid, the current projections are horrific.)  Or maybe COVID doesn’t go away with the change of seasons, and those who recover don’t develop immunity and can be reinfected.

How will your organization serve its constituents, its clients, in a world ravaged by the pandemic?

3. COVID-19 doesn’t go away this summer, and there is no vaccine or effective treatment by the summer.  Say THIS (the current shelter-at-home) becomes the “new normal”, not just through 1 May 2020 but through the rest of the year.  What happens?

It’s one thing to plan for six weeks or ten weeks.  It’s something else entirely to reconceptualize your entire organization from the ground up, to find new ways to carry out your mission and serve the constituency you serve in the shadow of COVID-19.

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