Director’s Note: Nonprofit Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020 / Comments Off on Director’s Note: Nonprofit Response to COVID-19

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MNA recognizes the growing concern about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impact on Montana’s nonprofit community: employees, volunteers, and most of all – the people and missions we serve.

I spoke yesterday with several nonprofit executives and came away with some thoughtful messages I want to share with you.

Nonprofits are often looked to first as community problem solvers. Right now, I’d venture to say most of us in the nonprofit community are sifting through a stunning amount of information trying to understand what our own response should be. I would suggest four questions to use as filters for decision making:

What do our employees (and/or volunteers) need from us right now? Our ability to serve the community is dependent on our workforce. Safety, flexibility, and a wage come to mind. What steps can I/you take as a leader to ensure these three things are solidly in place? Do we need to revisit our policies on remote work and/or sick leave? Wellness tips besides the obvious: have bottles of water or a water cooler at the workplace so employees can drink (water) early and often; create space for mindfulness, joy, or escapes once or twice a week; allow people to use sick time however they need to, and provide fresh fruit at the office. More than anything – listen to the needs and concerns of employees, and remember, there isn’t such a thing as over-communicating.

What does our organization need to be thinking about right now?

  • Staffing patterns
  • Convenings and events
  • Revenue constriction
  • Communications systems/messaging
  • Working remotely/technology
  • Lack of supplies
  • Increased demand for services
  • Collaboration
  • Communicating with the board regularly

What do our constituents need from us right now?

  • What is our message to constituents?
  • What new stressors are they facing that we need to be aware of?
  • How might our services shift to meet their needs during a critical time?

What does our community need from us right now? As nonprofits, we accept the responsibility of being seen as trusted resources and problem solvers. What are assets we have as nonprofits that we can bring to the table? Is it our community center? Our communications system? Our vans? Is there a way our assets can be leveraged for the good of the whole? We won’t go wrong by being generous with what we have, even if what we’re doing isn’t across the plate in terms of our mission.

If I could offer two words to fall back on during the upcoming days, they would be plan and communicate. Our work isn’t to control what we can’t; it’s to bring our smarts, our assets, and our willingness-to-lead to the pressing issues we’re facing. This is a time for all hands-on deck, and nonprofits know how to do that.

MNA has launched a page on our website which we will maintain with current information and resources. We will keep the resources somewhat minimal – curating to offer what we think is most useful.

Thanks for reading.


Liz Moore
Executive Director
Montana Nonprofit Association