Nonprofits: Navigating the Challenges of COVID-19

With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a difficult time for many businesses, including nonprofits. However, there are a number of key business areas that you can work to streamline during this time to support your organization.

Communication

Keeping open lines of communication is essential when managing a newly-remote team and maintaining a consistent message. You should:

  • Establish a group of individuals who should be in regular contact
    • Include representation from senior management and the board (possibly the finance committee or treasurer).
  • Schedule phone calls or virtual meetings and not just emails
    • Important information could be lost in a long email chain
  • Identify the contact and a backup contact at your critical business partners (bankers, auditors, key vendors, key donors)
    • Enables quick communication and timely action when needed
    • Provide them with your contact information and a backup at your office, as well, in case they can’t get a hold of you

Internal Controls

With situations constantly changing, it’s important to ensure that any internal processes are able to continue functioning efficiently to prevent important deadlines from being missed. Take time to:

  • Reassess your internal control processes
    • Communicate and document any necessary changes
  • Consider alternative documentation (i.e., email approval of invoices or payroll vs. initialing paper copies)
  • Look into electronic payment of invoices – who is controlling and overseeing that process?

Cash Flows

In such uncertain times, staying on top of your cash flow is more vital than ever before. Develop a plan for different scenarios by following some key practices:

  • Assess your current cash position (i.e., cash, investments, line of credit)
    • Create a 12 week projection and update regularly
    • Focus on the key drivers of your entity (i.e., cash, payroll, rent, revenue you can count on receiving, etc.)
  • Try not to use investments since the values are depressed. It may be more advantageous to take a low interest loan.  When the market rebounds, use those restored investments to pay off the new debt
  • Look into your bank covenants – talk to your bank now
    • They are likely going to be understanding now but when this situation passes, what will happen?
  • Encourage electronic payments from customers and electronic payment to vendors
    • Easiest way to keep cash moving while limiting physical contact
  • Email invoices to customers
    • Let them know you will be doing this so they don’t think it is a scam
  • STOP automatic payments
    • Allows you to physically control all cash disbursements
  • Take stock of discretionary spending – consider adding an additional approval so spending is limited and tracked by one individual
  • Re-evaluate annual payments (i.e., insurance, IT contract, etc.) – convert to monthly/quarterly payments?
  • Communicate with vendors
    • Extend payment terms?
    • Defer payments?
  • Put together a team of individuals from all departments, not just finance, to brainstorm ways to manage cash – someone not in finance may have some ideas that are outside the box or know more about how a particular program works that might help

Board Authority

Make use of your board members’ expertise during this time and put new, emergency measures in place such as:

  • Streamlining board approval process so you can move quickly, if necessary, on a decision
  • Board can delegate authority to a committee or treasurer

Development

This is a good time to explore new opportunities for revenue as individuals look to support their communities throughout these difficult times. You should:

  • Track the impact of situation now
    • Consider all costs (i.e., getting employees set up to work from home, etc.)
    • Donors or grantors may later provide funding to recover losses and want this information
  • Finance should provide development with what funds are needed and when they are needed
    • Development can target the appropriate donors
  • Encourage everyone in the entity to reach out to their network or evaluate their networks to identify anyone who could be targeted for funds
  • Form a pipeline of opportunities – track wins and reasons for non-wins as that data may be helpful down the road

Working from Home

This is likely a new working situation for your team. Despite social distancing practices, you can continue to boost team morale and productivity in a number of different ways:

  • Leadership should check in on employees regularly to see how they are doing – this is not an easy time for anyone
  • Schedule something fun to boost morale
    • Virtual happy hour
    • Have team members share photos of their new workspace or their new “co-workers” (i.e., pets, children, etc.)
  • Use your reclaimed commute time for something you like to do (i.e. exercise, reading, etc.)
    • Don’t turn the hours you normally spend in the car commuting to and from the office into more work hours
  • Track your hours to help maintain a work/life balance
  • Keep a routine so you don’t get burned out or end up working more hours than usual

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us today!

Disclaimer: This communication is intended to provide general information on legislative COVID-19 relief measures as of the date of this communication and may reference information from reputable sources. Although our firm has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate, we make no warranties, expressed or implied, on the information provided. As legislative efforts are still ongoing, we expect that there may be additional guidance and clarification from regulators that may modify some of the provisions in this communication. Some of those modifications may be significant. As such, be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed.