10 Ways for Nonprofits to Survive CoronaVirus Shutdowns

Whether you are concerned about your upcoming event, major donor appointments, or board meetings, the future is unknown. Here are some suggestions on what you can do if you and your nonprofit staff are working from home due to CoronaVirus Shutdowns. (And if you read this list and are still unsure what to do, we are offering free 30 minute consultations)

Stewardship during CoronaVirus Shutdowns

  • If we are all quarantined, donors may be easier to reach by phone. Use this time to call donors, check in on them. If they are in a good headspace, update or thank them. If they are worrying about a loved one or are sick themselves, consider if there is anything you could do to help like send some soup or a small package of easy to make groceries.
  • Encourage board members to make thank you or check-in calls. If everyone is home and looking for a little contact with the outside world, a thank you call will feel extra special.
  • Updates don’t have to stop. In fact, you might have more time to write up a story or work on a video when no one is stopping in your office. Share your latest and greatest accomplishments with pride.


  • This is probably obvious but make a plan B for all events. Most nonprofits cannot cancel do to CoronaVirus shutdowns without impacting their annual income. Will you have an un-gala or un-fundraiser? Will you invite people to dress up and meet virtually? Create a social media event? Move your paddle raise online? Consider sites like Greater Giving, Classy, OneCause, or Bidding For Good.
  • Check your contracts and insurance policies. If you do have to cancel a gala or conference, you may be able to reduce some of your losses. Are there any pieces that can be cancelled? If not, can you find a sponsor to underwrite the catering with promotion to your lists, your social media and your site?

Planning or re-evaluating your plan

  • Re-evaluate your Fundraising Plan and your budget. We don’t know how long it will be before we get back to any kind of normal. What fundraising can continue virtually and what needs to be postponed? What will your plan look like, assuming in-person fundraising doesn’t start up again until the fall or 2021? What are you doing to remind your donors, volunteers, and members that you are still worthy of their time, energy and financial support?

Help your employees work from home during CoronaVirus shutdowns:

  • Consider noise cancelling headphones, purchasing productivity planners, and/or a workout app for staff. As someone who has worked from home for more than 10 years, I know there are times that I am less productive than others. When I realize it, I go back to tried and true practices like re-reading a favorite productivity book.  Recently, I purchased a new Productivity Planner. If it is someone’s first time at home, it will not be easy to ignore the laundry, the phone, or kids looking for that set of markers they haven’t seen in months. Help them overcome the hurdles and feel positive about the experience.
  • Create strategies to connect staff to each other and the outside world. Creativity and collaboration are the backbones of many organizations. And most people don’t want to work on their own which is why they got a job in an office. Help them through this potentially isolating time. Choose a site like GoToWebinar, Zoom Meeting, or Google Hangouts to meet more often.
  • Hold meetings that have people on screen. Not that I have ever worked on one project while attending a webinar or on a large, group call, but focus may drift if people are not held accountable. It’s true, everyone will have to shower and get dressed (at least their top halves) but it will help you get more done.
  • Set hours and expectations but expect interruptions. Some people may need to shift hours if that is convenient – people will have to deal with kids at home when they are supposed to be at work – but just try to have everyone on the same page as much as possible.

This will be a tough time for all of us. Don’t let fear take over. And, stay healthy.