Non Profits: How to successfully navigate through to a new normal

Published on 24th June 2020

2020 has been a unique year so far for the whole world, and as with other sectors in the global pandemic, the NGO and INGO sectors have not been left out. The suddenness of the lockdown and the uncertainty of a reopening to our old ‘normal’ is not something that anyone could have adequately
planned for or predicted.

In a recent study by the Charities Aid Foundation of America based on a survey of nearly 550 nonprofits in 93 countries conducted between March 24 and 26, the report found that 96.5% of respondents reported negative impacts related to the virus, including a drop in donations (67.9%); travel restrictions disrupting contact with clients, donors, and recipients (63%); issues with client relations (56.4%); disruptions to staffing (48.6%) or operations (37.6%); increased costs (34%); and disrupted supply chains (31.1%).

What does all this mean for nonprofits in practice and how can we weather the storm ?

It is important for Nonprofits as with any other organisation to maintain communication and to keep abreast of new and relevant information in the sector. In order for this to happen, a key criteria is knowing your audience. Some call it knowing the ‘stakeholders’. If this is not an exercise that you have done before in mapping our your stakeholders, not is a good time to do so as they will like to receive information very differently.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to communicating with the board versus communicating with supporters or beneficiaries so you will have to figure that out or hire a specialist to help you do so. While timing is everything, avoid going absolutely silent. Be clear and do not be afraid to communicate the uncertainties that you also face in these unpredictable times. If they are able to connect with you beyond the monthly newsletter, they are likely to feel more connected and ride the wave for longer.

Re-evaluate strategy, operations and finances

The most successful businesses are the ones that do not operate from a strategy that is no longer viable. The ability to visit the drawing board when there is a significant change, especially external and beyond ones control is the ability to survive and thrive in the world.

It is highly likely that donations, both individual and institutional will reduce at least in the short to medium term while people who have lost their jobs realign their finances and governments prioritise its citizens with potentially lower income, One must be reminded of the need for a plan B and C. Scaling down and reassessing operations on a weekly and monthly basis will become part of what we all do.

Good budgeting is critically important to the success of nonprofit organisations that often have stretched resources, fluctuating funding, and/or heavy reliance on specific funding sources.

A well-formulated nonprofit budget allows for the best use of limited nonprofit resources and focuses on the primary goals and objectives of the organisation. This may involve some difficult decisions being made but we advise that all external help and subsidies should be exhausted first before drastic cuts are taken. It may become difficult to re recruit high caliber staff when you actually need them.


Cost Recovery

Now more than ever, you need to know your cost and at a minimum, make sure they are covered. This is not direct cost only but also indirects including any overhead and support cost. The last thing that you want to do is exhaust your unrestricted or reserves in a bid to stay open and implement no projects. Be firm with new opportunities and ensure that the full cost of delivering the project is recovered.

Read more on cost recovery


Collaborate for impact

Resources are scarce, and more is required of every sector, non profits included. Non profits need to share and collaborate locally and internationally with for profit and nonprofit organizations to find more efficient ways to execute more resources. It will be beneficial to understand the basis of working efficiently in a consortium and begin to think through your strategy and process if this way of working is new to you. As donors seek to reduce their administrative cost base, large sums of money through the private sector or consortia seems more and more likely.

Working from home

This is the most obvious response, it’s ensures safety, convenience, and reduces cost. Covid-19 has truly pushed humanity into the 21st century information age. It has allowed us to redefine what is truly important and allowed us to put our technological advances into more essential use.
Every Non-profit should understand that it is possible to work remotely and they should encourage it, there are more tools at our disposal to see that this is a smooth experience . Where possible, this may also be a great way to reduce office cost.

At FINDEV, we provide consultancy services to nonprofit organisations and are able to assist you at short notice in the preparing of donor budgets and financial reports in response to the current global pandemic.

Please contact us here or send us an email at today.