• Frances S. Caan

Nonprofit Organizations Surviving the Pandemic

People are anxious about the dire news reports constantly swirling around us. People are lonely. People are feeling the financial repercussions of businesses being shut down. Donors are not welcoming communications from charitable organizations that aren’t addressing their current concerns. In fact, a dismissive approach or a business-as usual approach in an email can result in people opting out from receiving further communications for your nonprofit.



On the bright side, we are seeing that charitable giving is not declining – nor has it in the past during times of disaster. We still have homeless to care for. We still have churches to build and injustices to speak out against. What we are currently witnessing is a re-prioritization of our philanthropy. Our donors are turning their attention to NGOs and local charitable organizations whose missions support health related causes. Americans are extremely charitable. UNICEF, The Red Cross, The Rotary Foundation, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and Homeless Shelters, to name a few, are effectively communicating with donors about the importance of their missions and we are listening.


It is ok for an art museum or a folk music school to take a deep breath, take a brief respite from “making asks” and allow caring for the physical and emotional well-being of others to take precedence. We can all agree on this.


And then, in the weeks to come, gradually our fears will abate. Our shops will reopen and, in time, we will allow ourselves the luxury of supporting the many other noble causes that may be more cultural or academic in nature and less focused on crisis management. It’s all good. Let’s be patient. We are learning to live at a slower pace and we are becoming more beautiful, more thoughtful. Aren’t we impressed by the passion of our young teenagers and college kids talking about fairness and equity?


As for our economic outlook, relative to charitable giving: So far, the US. Financial system has survived the initial shock of the coronavirus crisis, thanks in part to the actions taken by the Federal Reserve. But, another shock may be coming, as millions of people and businesses fall behind on obligations such as mortgages and corporate loans. It would behoove leaders of nonprofit organizations to study and revise their 2021 annual budgets. Now is the time to invest in fundraising and communications staff. Stewardship is key. Do not accept inertia. Let’s keep up the no-cost newsletters and outreach and consider how we might modify our programming to appeal to a changing audience. Let’s take time to consider what our communities need and what resources we have to serve them. Fewer camps are operating this summer. What do we do with all these children? Art is therapy. Gardening is therapy. Perhaps more local art centers will offer outdoor (social distanced) drawing classes for youth. According to a recent Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy study, in a given year, individuals, corporations and foundations have been known to infuse over $10 billion in Chicago nonprofits. Chicago philanthropy is alive and well. Indeed, with sound leadership, our charities will persevere and come out stronger and perhaps more relevant.



To schedule a consultation or to learn how Frances S. Caan Non-profit Consulting, Inc. can help you build a more efficient and effective fundraising program, visit www.francescaannonprofitconsulting.com #fundraising #Nonprofitconsulting #strategicplanning #charities #donors #stewardship #NGO #churchfundraising #capitalcampaign #annualfund #majorgifts #nonprofitmanagement #evidencebasedleadershipstrategies #fundraisingpartner #collaboration

© 2017 by Frances S. Caan Non-profit Consulting, Inc.