Friday Roundup: Post-COVID-19 Planning and Management Tips

by Victoria Jones

Posted April 17, 2020

Our weekly round-up of how the pandemic is impacting nonprofit management, fundraising, and recruitment – and what your organization can do in response…


1. Believe it or not, now is the time to begin planning for fundraising post-COVID-19

While you may feel like you have just barely settled into a new reality, it is not too soon to start thinking about fundraising “on the other side.” Despite the unending, and maybe even nagging, demands of crisis management, Development Guild believes that if you do not start planning now, you may find yourself unprepared for the first opportunity you will have to leap into the next new reality. Here are two things you can do now to begin that process:

  • Invest in your frontline fundraising team. Be sure you have the staff you need to reach all of your most important supporters. If you do not, consider starting to recruit now. It will take you a few months to find the perfect candidate. By then, we hope to find ourselves moving back to normal or some semblance of normal. (Consider calling us – we are offering reduced cost fees for full-service searches during this pandemic period as a way of helping our clients find their greatest success. And yes, you can—we are—successfully conduct virtual searches.) Besides hiring, take the time to train staff on new skills, and point them to webinars or other professional development opportunities – get them ready!
  • Plan for post-COVID-19 like it is a new campaign. Determine whether your institution’s 3- to 5-year needs are the same or changing. Do you still have the same priorities and goals, or do you need to pivot because of the pandemic? How has it affected your donors and prospects? Is your list still the same? Who is likely to be most ready given employment shifts, illness, school situations, etc.? What do you need to do now to keep their attention? Involve the executive team and board members in this exercise so that you are all aligned and positioned to move at the earliest possible moment. It is important that you keep your Board engaged this way. You will need them, and you likely won’t have the luxury of time to get them up to speed. If you have excess capacity and some new ideas, test them now with your board members and closest donors (think feasibility study).

Success will be determined by how both your short- and long-term fundraising strategies are developed and communicated. Now is not the time for tunnel vision. Now is the time to plan for a strong, resilient, and mission-driven future.

2. Management Tips – Connect, connect, connect!

While the ability to continue our work remotely is a great benefit, it also can negatively impact our connectivity and communication. It has been a long month in many ways and critical relationships are increasingly isolated. Consider these tips:

  • While remote, make a point to start your meetings or calls with personal conversation. Take the time to check in on your coworkers’ wellbeing. It will be noticed and appreciated, and your team will function better as a result.      
  • In the office, unplanned communications are common; we pop into a coworker’s office with a question or stop to chat when we pass each other in the hall. While remote, create a communication flow that replicates the style you had in office. Make regular check-ins over video, as opposed to calls. It is easier to make a connection when you can see each other. Pick up the phone when you know someone is working on the same project as you instead of emailing all the time. Explore collaborative platforms, like Google Docs and Dropbox, which allow users to edit simultaneously and chat in real-time.

There will be some unrest in employees post-COVID-19. Focusing on retention matters right now. These small gestures will maintain trust and replicate, as best possible, the benefits you would have if you were live in the office. Trust us!

3. How arts organizations are adapting their fundraising strategies

We recently launched Coffee Talk, a virtual series where we gather small groups of clients and friends of the firm practicing in the same sector to share advice and stories about how they’re responding to the pandemic.
Last week, Coffee Talk hosted seven heads of fundraising at an array of arts organizations—museums, performing arts, and outdoor art—for a fascinating and timely discussion.
Read our blog to learn more about these key takeaways:

  • Offer pre-paid memberships or subscription refunds. When offering the latter, ask subscribers to consider gifting the refund back to your organization. This is working for our clients!
  • Get creative about keeping your constituents engaged while remaining true to your brand. A couple of ideas: host “tea” or “porch talks” via Zoom or encourage constituents to create and share their own art!

Having watched the devastating impact of the 2008 recession on arts organizations, many donors are feeling a sense of urgency to support those they love most. While you need to be highly sensitive to what is going on in the lives of your donors, you can make asks. There is empathy for the arts out there! A gentle and flexible approach is being well-received.

Nonprofit Spotlight

Highlighting the tenacity and creativity of nonprofits in unprecedented times…


Mount Sinai Health System is the first in the country to use an innovative stem cell therapy for COVID-19 patients. Learn more about the treatment and its potential, or hear firsthand from the hospital’s medical staff about life inside the hospital, featured in New York Magazine.


Montefiore Medical Center allowed two New York Times journalists into their emergency department for a day to document the toll treating contagious patients is taking on their staff’s mental and physical health. Click to read the article and view a short video.


Partners In Health has joined The Massachusetts COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative. Led by Governor Charlie Baker, the collaborative aims to more rapidly reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts by tracing contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients and providing support to those in quarantine. Learn more.

For more information, visit our COVID-19 Resources page.

All of us here at Development Guild recognize the critical role our friends and clients are playing in supporting the most vulnerable among us during this crisis. As we face these uncertain times together, it is our top priority to support you. Visit our COVID-19 Resources page for useful information and insights.