Thank you to those who are caring for our families, friends, and neighbors in so many different ways. Whether you are providing health care, ensuring that no person goes hungry, posting videos of arts performances from home, or comforting people in myriad other ways, you are making a difference.
We’ve always known that charitable nonprofits embody the best of our society. You give shape to our nation’s boldest dreams, highest ideals, and noblest causes. You feed, heal, shelter, educate, inspire, enlighten, and nurture people of every age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status, from coast to coast, border to border, and beyond. You foster civic engagement and leadership, drive economic growth, and strengthen the fabric of our communities. Every single day.
At the National Council of Nonprofits, we will continue to do our best to create, curate, and circulate resources, and to connect you with timely information to help you advocate at the federal, state, and local levels so you have what you need to serve your communities. Please let us know how you are doing and how COVID-19 is affecting the community you serve. We don’t know what the weeks and months ahead will hold, but we do know that nonprofits like yours will help us make it through.
Caring for ourselves, so we can care for our communities
In normal times, nonprofit employees’ day-to-day work can be stressful. Now, in these abnormal times, that stress has been compounded by new logistical challenges ranging from government-mandated closures to balancing caring for children while trying to get work done. We all need to heed the flight attendant’s instruction to ensure we are okay first, so we are able to help others. Right now, that may seem easier said than done. But we urge everyone reading this newsletter to pause for at least a few minutes each day to step away from the demands of work and the daunting news on TV and Twitter and use that time to connect with something you enjoy. Whether that is going for a run around your neighborhood or listening to the Songs of Mother Earth playlist by JusticeAid or #SongsofComfort being posted on Twitter by gifted artists from around the world (including the incomparable Yo-Yo Ma) or talking with friends and family on the phone, FaceTime, or Zoom, we each need to find a few moments of peace and escape. There are numerous resources available to help us all with mental health, including from the CDC, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It’s okay if we’re not all okay right now, but know that help is available if you need it.
Connecting with financial resources
The greatest need for many nonprofits in the months ahead will be financial. Nonprofits facing either skyrocketing demands or none at all, while they also watch funding sources shrink or disappear, will stretch many nonprofits past their limits. While the initial rollout of the Payroll Protection Program was rocky, to say the least, nonprofits that secured forgivable loans now have a two-month lifeline to plan and take prompt actions. Congress is replenishing the funds, which should provide relief to more nonprofits.
But nonprofits would not have been eligible to apply for those loan if not for thousands of nonprofits rallying to lobby Congress to include nonprofits in the relief provided by the CARES Act. And your voice is needed to ensure that the next relief bill Congress passes will also include nonprofits rather than exclude us all. People are relying on their local nonprofits even more these days during the response to COVID-19, and with 22 million more Americans freshly unemployed, people will be relying on nonprofits to a much greater extent in the months of recovery and years of rebuilding from this pandemic. Your voice is needed.
Legislative lobbying is not the only form of advocacy at your disposal, however. Everyday advocacy goes far beyond government policymakers. It’s also reaching out to media so they can report on COVID-19’s effects on the people you serve. And everyday advocacy includes reaching out to your donors and volunteers to let them know what urgent needs your nonprofit has. The Association of Fundraising Professionals offers this curated list of fundraising resources you can use to communicate with current and potential supporters. Also worth checking out is this frequently updated state-by-state listing of community foundations that have established relief funds. Your nonprofit can also participate in the special #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5. Our friends at Neon One are also offering fundraising resources to nonprofits, including free consultations, reduced fees, and a no-fee digital fundraising platform on its #NPOsRise page.
Adjusting to new operational realities
Even as some government officials propose re-opening some businesses, a return to the office is still many weeks away for most of us. For now, we all continue to adapt to our remote reality. Going remote is certainly easier for some organizations than others. We shared this terrific article from Montana Nonprofit Association last month, but it’s worth repeating here because of its excellent roundup of resources: “Suddenly Working from Home.”
One additional aspect we want to highlight this month: as much as we want to support the U.S. Postal Service right now, many of us are not in our offices to receive mail for our organizations. If you haven’t already done so, take a quick inventory of the bills you normally receive via mail and reach out to those providers to see if they can send you electronic copies of bills, even temporarily. Similarly, if your donors generally send paper checks, you may want to consider encouraging them to switch to online giving. Do you receive donations through donor advised funds? If you do, be sure those funds have your organization’s direct deposit details on file. The last thing you want is for a donation to be returned to sender because your office is closed. And, even if your office is open, your organization will benefit by receiving those donated funds faster.
To all of our readers, thank you for the work you are doing in your community. Be well.
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