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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Conversations Around COVID-19: Connecting and Focusing Your Board

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

This is a guest blog and is posted with permission from Ann Quinn from the Quinn Strategy Group.

The severity of COVID-19 has required nonprofit leaders to add a whole list of crisis actions and communications to their already long to-do list.

If you’re a direct service provider, you might be trying to deliver services and keep your constituents safe. If you’re an arts organization, you are faced with the loss of income and challenged to deliver your mission in creative and virtual ways. But whatever your mission is, and regardless of your purpose, having a structured conversation with your board should be a priority.

I have a few topic suggestions for that conversation that will focus your board, explain and clarify your situation and enlist board members’ expertise and assistance. These topics will help create a roadmap of priorities and strategies for the very near term. That’s what is needed to steady your organization for the next 30 to 60 days.

Gratitude – First and foremost, communicate your gratitude to your board. Thank them for their wisdom and inspiration. You will need to tap into all of their resources and capabilities to weather this storm. Be specific about how the partnership and collaboration between leadership and the board is critical. Reaffirm to your board members how important they are to your organization.

Impact – Clearly and honestly hold a conversation with your board about the impact of COVID-19 on the services you’re providing. You may want to present several scenarios to help frame this discussion. It’s very important to provide as much information as you can with the data you have. Your board can only be helpful if they understand the impact and the conditions you are facing.

Money – Now is the time to be real with your board about the financial health and sustainability of your organization. Many organizations may have to delay a significant fundraiser. Many are worried about cash flow due to reimbursement lags or challenges. Perhaps you will need to deliver more services during this time and don’t have income to support this increase. Whatever your financial picture looks like, share that with your board so they understand the financial health of the organization.

Gaps & Opportunities – In times of great uncertainty and crisis there will always be inevitable gaps that reveal themselves as systems and routines are disrupted. This can also be a time to look for opportunities. Is there a service that you should sunset, or expand or another organization that could be a partner? Have a conversation with your board about these gaps and opportunities and how the board can help mitigate and leverage these situations.



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