By: Julie Clark, Vice President, Nonprofit Engagement, Business Volunteers Unlimited
As a nonprofit leader, regular communication with your board is key, and it is even more critical as we work together to navigate through COVID-19. Your board and committees should still be meeting regularly (or even more frequently), and new committees or task forces might be needed to address urgent areas. Communicating clearly and regularly with your board will help them stay connected to you cause and identify ways in which they can be helpful. One way you can do this is to create a one-page document outlining your organization’s COVID-19 response.
At BVU, we put one together to share with our Executive Committee at its meeting this week, and will be sending to the full board as well. We categorized our big “buckets” of work – our services to nonprofits and businesses, communications, finance/administration, and fundraising – and provided bullet-point notes for each documenting what actions we’ve taken, are considering, and any highlights of feedback we’ve received.
As you create this document for your organization, consider each of the following (and of course feel free to add other categories, but try to keep it to one page!):
Programming/Services – Have you made adaptations to ensure you can deliver your programs and services virtually? What are the challenges you’ve faced or modifications you’ve made?
Communications/Events – How are you connecting with your clients? Have you made updates to your website or your email strategy?
Finance/Administration – What are the actions you are taking to shore up finances? What does scenario planning look like? How are you engaging and supporting staff as they work remotely? How are you planning for return to the office?
Fundraising — How are you communicating with your funders and donors? Have you changed any of strategies for fundraising, e.g. moving to virtual events?
Some of the information on this one-pager may repeat things your board members have already heard “live” at meetings or via email, but putting it all together can be very compelling and powerful. First of all, it’s nice to take a step back and see how, over the past seven weeks, your organization has been adaptive, responsive, and flexible to meet your clients’ needs, address emerging challenges or priorities, and support your staff. You may identify areas where you might want or need to be more aggressive than you originally intended. You may determine that your approach has been spot-on in some ways, and you may find gaps where you haven’t needed to or been able to respond. This is also a way to engage your board – point out what’s gone well, what you’re struggling with, and ask for specific assistance where appropriate.
Working together and communicating well with your board is essential for your organization to come through this crisis, and this one-page COVID-19 response summary can be a tool that helps you make that connection.