[UPDATE: November 11, 2020]
The past few weeks have brought into sharper focus the shape of what American society and the nonprofit sector in particular may face in the coming months. [See COVID-19 RESPONSE HOME PAGE]
The pandemic, as predicted, has worsened dramatically all around the nation. Hoped-for reopenings must be delayed. But there are likely one or more vaccines that may soon be approved, pending verification of preliminary safety and efficacy data. Widespread distribution in the short term, though, will be hampered by logistical challenges.
The November 3rd election results mean a shift in administration in Washington, DC, and a top-priority focus – already underway in the planning stages – on the COVID-19 crisis. Whether there will be significant financial assistance may depend on the outcome of the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs.
[UPDATE: October 24, 2020]
Now, well into autumn, we face a worsening of the pandemic around the nation and continued uncertainty. The prospect of government aid has not yet materialized and may not happen at all.
[UPDATE: September 24, 2020]
The summer has drawn to a close, but we remain in a state of confusion and uncertainty even about when or how parts of the community (including the nonprofit sector) can safely reopen. There has also been a devastating delay in the next round of much-needed government financial help.
Experts advise continuing to use the tools of “scenario planning” to navigate through the next weeks and months when so much remains up in the air.
[UPDATE: June 24, 2020]
“Nonprofit leaders need to keep reminding themselves,” advises expert Alan Cantor, “that this is an unprecedented time.” And “more than one person has joked,” he explains, about “returning to a time … that’s precedented.”
The pre-COVID-19 body of crisis-management literature continues to grow during these strange and unsettling times. But it seems that there are more and more questions, and few satisfying or definitive answers.
Just as we had begun to acknowledge the stark reality that our new “normal” of quarantine and lock-down could last many months, there was an abrupt shift in May. Suddenly – and against the advice of health experts – all 50 states moved into multi-stage “reopenings.”
There were warnings that premature action might spur new infection hot spots resulting in the need to rollback reopening permissions. We’re already seeing the validity of these predictions with disturbing disease trends and statistics in many states and some key turnabouts by political leaders in those jurisdictions.
These fluid and unfamiliar circumstances present even more of a challenge for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 than would have been the case under a steady, albeit grim, reality of a long-term, shut-down nation.
While there’s been an extraordinary financial response from the government, it’s not nearly enough to meet the needs of the nonprofit community and of its constituents and beneficiaries in the near term. Bureaucratic obstacles and challenges have marred the delivery of this important aid and lawmakers continue to fight over the contours of additional assistance packages.
Nevertheless, in this enormous global crisis, there are already success stories and lessons learned that can be shared.
This section includes more detail in sub-parts: Directors’ Duties Now; Crisis Communications; Crisis Planning; and (the newly added) Reopenings.