Crisis mitigation strategies for donor funded projects

Published on 20th March 2020

Crisis mitigation strategies for donor funded projects – What now?

Not many people would have predicted a time like this in world economics and global politics. While it feels like we are living through an apocalypse of some kind, we encourage you to reflect at this time and think through how to exist and survive in a world that will undoubtedly no longer be as we have known it.

You may not have planned for a time such as this. You may have been putting off a crisis mitigation plan for months or even years. Well, now is the time to revisit it. These 6 steps will help you to strategically think through responding to this crisis situation and any others that may come along in the future.

1. Stay Calm: After all, they say our natural human responses are fight or flight! I suggest a third- Pause. Yes, this is the time to stop and think. Think about all the work that you have put in place to develop a risk strategy and crisis response plan. Think about your board of
directors and the communication plan that you already have in place but never thought that you would need to use.

If it is possible, stay calm and reassure your team to do the same. Discuss with your executive team and board as soon as possible. The safe guarding of your staff and project team comes first.

2. Identify all projects: You would hopefully have a centralised register of all the projects that you are implementing at any given time. Take stock of these, identify what projects are finishing, what invoices need to be sent out immediately and what is in the pipeline that needs urgent attention. Categorise your projects into Live/soon ending & pipeline and then put actions next to them in order
to assess and quantify potential risk quantitatively.

3. Local Legislation: It is important that while all this is going on, your plans do not contravene the law. You should always keep your ears peeled to the ground for local government directives and instructions at any point in time. Most governments will prioritise the safety of the most vulnerable in society, so it is imperative that you work with the government and not against them.

Local government directives could also act as a great spring board and basis for business negotiating. For example, delaying or re-negotiating payment terms or potentially directives towards insurance claims and thresholds during a crisis.

4. Do the math: Once things have settled down a little and you are compliant with legislation, you will need to crunch some numbers and do that very quickly. It is highly likely that there will be some fixed recurring costs that still need to be recharged to donor projects during
this period e.g. office rent, salaries and utilities. You need to quantify fixed and variable costs for at least a 6-12-month period depending on the crisis. Identify the potential risk to income, impact on reserves if expenditure is not eligible and cost to
implement contingency measures.

5. Seek donors’ guidance: Some donors may already have guidance in their manual or terms of engagement that you can refer to at first. If a national or global disaster occurs, do not hesitate to contact your donor as soon as possible. In most countries, there is a regulatory
body or group that represents non-profits that you may channel your questions through so as not to overwhelm the government body or donor with questions. You want to make sure that they understand the context that you are in and offer solutions that are mutually
beneficial for getting through the crisis together.

6. Communicate: There is nothing worse than your staff, local community or beneficiaries left in the dark, wondering about what you are going to do or how you will respond after a disaster.

It is particularly important if peoples’ livelihoods and lives are going to be impacted. If a day center for the youth or self-help group is likely to be closed, do your best to inform the beneficiaries as soon as possible. Where alternatives exist, please let them know.

Findev Consulting Limited is a UK based consultancy that provides grant management training to NGOs and civil society organisation. We have worked with numerous nonprofits across 3 continents, focusing on proposal development, strategic planning and project evaluation.