Cascade Alliance

How to respond to the Coronavirus: Tips for Nonprofits

As nonprofits running social enterprises and human service programs that necessitate frequent contact with the public, the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) could have significant effects on our businesses and the services we provide in the community. How can we prepare to reduce impact on revenue while best protecting our employees, volunteers, and those we serve?

The U.S. Chamber Foundation has released helpful toolkits through consultation with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that can be used as a guide for employers and staff in our workplaces. The following points summarize their general suggestions for employers:

Assess sick leave and time off policies, and consider letting employees work remotely. Actively encouraging sick employees to take time off and providing telecommuting options are preventative measures to stop the illness from spreading while maintaining business operations.

Determine avenues to communicate accurate information about COVID-19 to staff, as well as workplace tips for employees to prevent contraction and spread of the disease. Those can be found here, and include: avoiding close contact with others, staying home when sick, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, using proper sneezing and coughing etiquette, and washing one’s hands frequently. Proper hand washing should last 20 seconds with soap and water, and staff should use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when handwashing is unavailable.

Employers should prepare for absences due to illness, caring for sick family members, and parental leave due to the possibility of school closures and ensuing childcare needs.

Modifications to day-to-day operations may be necessary. For example, companies can explore alternative meeting formats such as digital, remote meetings. Similarly, identifying additional vendors or suppliers could alleviate loss of usual partners.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy touches on a few ways nonprofits nationally have implemented risk-mitigation efforts to protect employees, volunteers, and communities they serve. Some have limited employee travel, extended options to work from home, and delayed volunteer projects. Technology is being leveraged as a useful tool to continue operations while restricting exposure, and additional courses of action could include canceling or rescheduling events that put staff at risk. Another factor that may impact revenue streams, are complications to fundraising efforts this season: many of us rely on events and person-to-person contact to solicit donations.

Taking precautionary measures are important, and there are plenty of resources available for us to utilize.