Nonprofit reputations are built during hard times

Reputations are built during hard times. How nonprofits act now during the Coronavirus pandemic is how they will be remembered by supporters when this blows over. I’ve compiled a list of 10 pieces of advice for nonprofit leaders to build a strong reputation during the Coronavirus.

1. Treat people well.

Be kind, sensitive, and generous. Being altruistic does not necessarily require money. Set the tone for your nonprofit’s staff, board members, donors, partners, and constituents.

2. Take care of yourself.

Get sleep, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and practice good hygiene. I know I’m guilty of not prioritizing sleep – and even less lately – but I know how damaging this will be for me in the long-run, and then I won’t be of any use to my philanthropic partners. It’s difficult to think clearly and to make responsible decisions without adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

3. Be present.

Don’t bring your work stress into your relationship with your partner, kids, friendships, and so on. This will help you alleviate tension and give yourself a real mental break from work. Take advantage of this time to reconnect with family, friends, and old acquaintances.

4. Focus on what’s essential.

Don’t get lost in the weeds. Focus on what your nonprofit does best and needs to survive. For now, let the rest go.

5. Be disciplined in hope.

Stay positive. Think of how to make your nonprofit come out stronger and better than ever on the other side. Call to check in on your donors and partners regularly. Work on deepening relationships. These are the relationships that will help you strategize innovative new programming when all of this is over.

6. Set clear daily goals.

Right now, we can only take things day by day. Accept this reality instead of fighting against it! Make sure your daily goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely to achieve the most success.

7. Protect reserve funding.

Assume the worst for the next four months – that fundraising revenue will be zero. Only spend on what is necessary. Speak with vendors (e.g., a fundraising platform, office rent) to negotiate or push off payment terms of outstanding invoices.

8. Don’t show fear.

Anxiety is contagious! To staff and supporters, you need to try your best to appear strong, confident, and decisive. They need a leader like this to get through the Coronavirus. And they will gladly remember a nonprofit leader like this when all is said and done.

9. Take advantage of relief packages.

Government agencies will continue to announce relief aid. Pay attention and take advantage of nonprofit relief programs and packages being offered. Accepting help does not make you look weak by any means. They are creating these packages for you! Donors will be glad to know they aren’t your only key stakeholders during the Coronavirus.

10. Stay calm.

The economy works in cycles – this is part of it. Fundraising will eventually get better. Great nonprofit leaders shine the brightest during times of chaos. Don’t panic or rush fundraising decisions. As you stay calm, pay close attention to which staff members are also able to remain calm and continue to do their work effectively – they are keepers!

Remember, tough times don’t lastTough nonprofits do. So, resist the urge to be opportunistic or fearful. Innovate! Remain open to new fundraising opportunities. Many supporters may be willing to help in ways they otherwise would never entertain. Ultimately, there is a great deal of opportunity during the Coronavirus to actively pursue, but nonprofits should beware of being insensitive or greedy when taking advantage of these possibilities.

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