How to keep your nonprofit going when income is down
Over the last couple of months, our economy has experienced a sharp downturn. Because the coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced many businesses to close their doors, millions of Americans are unemployed. As a result, you and other nonprofit organizations may face potentially catastrophic reductions in income, even while there may be an increased need for your services.
So, how can a nonprofit make ends meet during this uncertain time? You need to both offer services to those who need them most and, at the same time, reach out to those who have not been hit as hard by the financial crisis.
Continue to live out your mission. If you are a food pantry, your community needs your support now more than ever to receive nourishment—even if your methods have had to change because of the pandemic. If you are an early childhood program, explore ways to reach families within the current social distancing restrictions. If you are a community theater, provide entertainment that your patrons can access digitally. Now is the time to show your community why you exist, and why the service you provide is so important.
If you’re in trouble, talk about it. Send a message to your email list explaining your financial situation, and what it will take for you to continue providing services to the people who depend upon you. You’ll be surprised by how many people emerge out of the woodwork once they know you need help.
Be mindful of your supporters’ financial situations — both the bad and the good. Many Americans have been receiving federal economic impact payments over the past few weeks. While some desperately need those checks to pay their own bills, others may consider donating some of that amount to nonprofits, including yours.
Rely on volunteers. If you already have a committed group of volunteers, use them! Solicit their feedback on your financial challenges and ask for their ideas. Your volunteers are just as committed to the organization as you are.
Actively promote online giving to your organization. First of all, make sure you have a good system in place to donate online. Yes, individuals can mail checks, but they are much more likely to donate if they can do so quickly and digitally. Additionally, don’t assume your supporters know your needs. Put together an online giving campaign — with milestones and incentives — that will help your organization through this tough time.
Take an honest look at your budget. This national shutdown may be among the most dire circumstances your organization has faced. Now is the time to cut out all the “wants” and focus on the “needs.” Consider how you might trim spending on supplies and cut your utility bills, for example.
Remember that we’re all in this together, and your community wants to support you. For every person who is going through a difficult financial time, there’s another who is looking for the right cause to support. Show them why they should choose yours.