Nonprofit funding and COVID-19 – three things to do now

As we continue to live through this COVID19 pandemic we must ensure the health and continuity of our nonprofits. These organizations and institutions are the infrastructure of our communities and have been built over years and often decades. They are rich in community knowledge, networked across the generations and neighborhoods, and often connected to like-minded organizations across the country and internationally.Last week we offered suggestions for what do to now. Here are three more.

Make sure your organization is aware of funding opportunities that are – or will become – available. Funding is opening up at all levels. Check websites for government, community foundations, nonprofit support organizations, and philanthropy networks. Be prepared to clearly and concisely define your immediate needs. Be aware that there is and will be funding for recovery: start thinking about and documenting what you will need after the pandemic subsides and we are left with its many impacts. Look to foundations and agencies that have funded you in the past – and those that have never funded you. Philanthropy – and government – are moving away from “business as usual” in order to respond to the unique health, economic, social, and educational crises we are facing. Look for all loans that can help you retain your staff, especially those that are “forgivable.”

Talk with funders regarding grants you have been awarded. If you have government contracts or foundation grants, ask that your nonprofit continue to receive funds even if you are under-performing – or unable to perform – because of COVID-19. Ask for approval to move budget-line items associated with existing contracts to new COVID-19 related or general operating costs. Ask for additional funds to meet increasing needs including the new costs of operating such as disinfecting facilities, protective gear, remote work and related, and additional staffing and supplies.

Build your fundraising capacity while “safer at home.” For those organizations experiencing “down time,” your executive or fundraising leader can use the phone, email, or video conference to bring together board, staff, and volunteers to develop a list of 500 potential donors and funders, including those who can give in-kind services and resources. Once you have the list of 500 names, cull it to 100 prime prospects. Divide these names into three categories. Group One: those with an interest in your nonprofit. Group Two: people or organizations with a history of supporting organizations like yours. Group Three: those you believe could support your organization based on history, knowledge, and relationships. For groups one and two, make sure someone in your organization has a relationship with the prospect and is willing to cultivate and solicit them. If not, move the prospect to group three. Record all names with a suggested ask amount for each; name of who will reach out to each, and what the strategy is to reach them. As appropriate, begin reaching out to these people now, or plan for when to reach out in the future. Developing your prospect list is like mining for gold: work on this now so you can sustain and grow.


In order to help you organize your “safer at home” prospect building,
we have created a spreadsheet you can download and begin using. Share it with members of your board, staff, volunteers, and fundraising team. Combine the names into one list and then identify which are Group One, Two or Three. Make notes on strategy. Build your prospect list, and make calls now as appropriate.

Don’t be timid in defining what you need and asking for it.


Don’t forget:


Copyright 2020 – Mel and Pearl Shaw

Let us help you find your way through this unknown time.  Video and phone conferencing services always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.

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