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Unprecedented Times. Unthinkable Decisions.

As I sit at my desk I am pondering many things related to the COVID-19 crisis. Among them is how will this situation impact my non-profit clients, our communities' social service sector, and ultimately my company.

I’ve been listening to the news, keeping track of what’s being done to help Canadians – and yet little has been mentioned about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the non-profit community. Yes, non-profits may be able to access the 75% wage subsidy provided that they meet the required criteria. Yes, they may be able to access interest-free loans. Yes, funders may agree to continue to pay for contract services that can and will not be delivered.

That’s all great.

Much more is needed though. Non-profit leaders at both the board and executive level are being faced with unprecedented decisions.

  • How do we keep our doors open to serve our clients? If not, how else can we continue to support them?

  • Do we lay off staff? If so, when? How?

  • Do we have enough money in our reserves to pay staff severance, vacation, etc. should this continue beyond June?

  • What does our cashflow look like if we are closed for 3 months? 6 months? 12 months?

  • What operating expenses must continue? Where can we make cuts?

  • If we are closed and lay-off all of our staff, how do we come back when this pandemic is over? What’s our plan?

  • And most heart wrenching of all, will our organization survive this pandemic?

I don’t want to sound like Negative Nelly over here, but these are important questions. Questions that most of us never considered we’d actually have to pose, let alone answer.

Unprecedented times.

To make things more challenging, the news and the options change every day. One day it looks like we are flattening the curve, the next day it looks like we will be in this for much longer than we thought. Our government is doing what it can to help, but is it enough?

Possibly not, but in my opinion, they are doing their best given the situation.

Is the non-profit sector resilient enough to bounce back from this?

HELL YES! You’ve proven it time and time again.

I’m here to let you know that I am still in your corner. I want to see the non-profit not only survive this crisis but find ways to thrive. To focus on the opportunities that present themselves in situations like this – and to take advantage of them.

  • What are the best-case scenarios for your organization? How do you ensure these are achieved?

  • How can you pivot what you are doing to continue to serve your clients and your community?

  • How can you adapt your business model to meet current and future needs?

  • How can you creatively approach your staff and contractors – and find ways to minimize the impact COVID–19 is having on their income and their lives?

  • What planning and adjustments can you make today (and in the coming weeks), that position your organization to be healthy, resilient and ready to rock and roll when this crisis is over?

Be proactive, take charge. Invite participation from those who will be impacted.

Make the hard decisions. Do what you need to do to come out on the other side with the BEST possible results.

I know it won’t be easy.

I’ve already been part of a non-profit discussion that explored some of the options. It’s scary. Tough. You are going to have to make decisions you don’t want to make. However, I’m optimistic that you will make these decisions with a blend of heart, soul, finances, and operational sustainability in mind.

Be kind to each other – we need that right now. Listen and learn.

And by all means, reach out to me for help whether you need a sounding board, a facilitated online conversation, or a warm virtual hug and conversation to remind you that you’ve got this! We will get through this if we work together.

With optimism and a strong belief in the resiliency of the non-profit sector,


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