Non-Profit Leadership During the COVID-19 Crisis

January 18, 2021 – Not-for-profit CEOs, who are already used to working with limited resources, are under enormous pressure as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. “Most chief executives are facing new financial constraints, shifting priorities among donors, and uncertain regulatory aid – all while tackling the operational challenges of running an enterprise with staff and volunteers trying gamely to pitch in from home,” said Julie A. Rosen, leader of WittKieffer’s not-for-profit practice, in a new report. “Many healthcare and social services-related non-profits have the added burden of being on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.”

While each non-profit CEO encounters unique circumstances, WittKieffer offers the following helpful tips for how to lead and manage the next few months.

1. Take care of your organization. “If you have not done so already, learn about federal and state bills and assistance recently enacted that will provide short- and long-term assistance as a not-for-profit and as an employer,” said Ms. Rosen. “If you don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to do this, enlist the help of a knowledgeable board member or trusted advisor.

2. Review your sick leave and vacation policy and, if possible, be flexible in implementing the policy during this crisis. “Communicate frequently with your staff by being available as a sounding board but also scheduling frequent updates by Zoom or Skype,” said Ms. Rosen.

3. Review your organization’s contingency plan and develop scenarios based on all of the information that is available to you. Ms. Rosen said to “involve key staff members and your board and finance chairs in this planning to provide sound advice and perspective.”

4. Communicate frequently with the board by setting up a weekly video call to brief them on your financial situation and what your organization is doing to stay in business.

5. Reach out more regularly to donors. Ms. Rosen explained that “you, along with senior staff, should be in close contact by phone, email and text with major public and private donors to check in and let them know how the organization is doing.”

6. Do not stop raising money during this time period. “Many notfor-profits have set up an emergency COVID-19 fund for their clients and employees and are raising significant funds depending on the focus of the organization,” said Ms. Rosen. “Focus on the basic needs of your organization during this time and make sure you are checking in regularly with your finance and investments committee.”

7. Use social media to broadcast the “state of the state” and the vital work of your organization during this time of crisis.

8. Take care of yourself. “This is a stressful time,” Ms. Rosen said. “Remember the directions about putting your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Carve time out for yourself to rejuvenate; the organization will be well served with a leader who can think clearly and strategically.”


Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments