As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the world is facing severe economic hardship. One of the sectors hardest hit is the nonprofit industry. While charitable services are arguably more needed than ever, many nonprofit organizations lack reserve funding to keep them afloat during a crisis. Not to mention, small nonprofits are losing millions of dollars that would have otherwise been raised at spring charity events right now.
Before charities consider layoffs during the Coronavirus pandemic, here’s a word of caution:
Don’t react to the economy too soon.
Before freaking out, it’s critical to keep in mind that historically, charitable donations have only gone down about 2% during economic lows, including the Great Recession. Already, charitable funding to combat the Coronavirus has topped $1 billion, according to Candid. For comparison, charitable funds raised for the Ebola virus was $132 million. So, make sure you only let staff go because you HAVE to, not because you are prematurely reacting to the economy.
Never forget your mission and purpose.
Charities exist to serve the greater of their communities. How are you pivoting your nonprofit’s services to meet the needs of your community? How you rotate your services right now will likely determine if or how many layoffs you have to make.
Keep in mind, your employees are part of these communities. Consider what’s RIGHT not only for the community you serve but your employees who are within your community – essential and non-essential.
If essential, consider additional benefits like increased paid time off and access to free mental health services. If non-essential, and you have to layoff your employees, consider giving out bonuses so they have a bit of runway. Finding a new job now will not be easy for them, as many of their skills are industry-specific to charity work (and charities are
struggling right now). Don’t forget to explain the benefits they can collect or take advantage of. Consider offering them their position back as soon as things turn around. Ultimately, if they’re competent and committed, you’d rather have them back than waste funding on finding and training someone new.
The LAST people to let go of are your fundraising employees.
While development professionals might not be too busy now, letting go of them will kill your charity in the long run. From a sustainability perspective, relationships are all you have! Your fundraising currency lies within the quality of its donor relationships. Your development professionals are the key to maintaining those relationships during a crisis. They will help your executive leadership keep donor data organized, plan essential communication points, and provide creative solutions for staying digitally connected to donors.
SHOW donors your value, don’t just tell them.
According to a new survey, most young American adults trust nonprofits more than the government or corporations to “do what’s right” during the Coronavirus pandemic. Part of the reason for this is because young adults believe nonprofits will actually take action to combat the Coronavirus. So, contrary to popular assumptions, younger donors may be more receptive than ever to donate to your charity. Therefore, make sure your nonprofit establishes smart digital fundraising strategies for Millennial and Gen-Z donors and bolsters creative digital efforts with younger volunteers.
You may be able to keep everyone on for another month or two.
Of course, that depends on the size of your nonprofit organization to see if and how you can weather this storm. One quick solution? Have EVERYONE, including and especially top executives, take a reduction in salary to benefit your team. Ultimately, if things continue as they are, they’ll have to agree to a pay-cut or risk being laid off anyhow.
The bottom line? Don’t overreact to the economy, fight to mission-aligned, hang tight your fundraising team, take action with your younger donors, and prioritize creative solutions to keep your team together as long as possible.