Surviving the COVID-19 crisis: A not-for-profit action plan
First, determine your not-for-profit ’s cash position and how long you can continue operating if no new revenue comes in. If you’ve built an emergency reserve fund, you may be able to continue for six or more months. Unfortunately, most charities have much thinner cash cushions — perhaps only enough to cover a few weeks of bills.
Next assess (or reassess) future cash flows. Say, for example, that your mental health clinic uses a fee-for-services model, but your out-of-work clients can no longer afford the fees. Or perhaps your school raises 30% of its annual income with a gala that you’ve had to reschedule from April to October. You’re probably looking at some big shortfalls.
Be careful not to underestimate cash needs — particularly if demand for services has increased. Assume that funding sources that were already shaky will evaporate and that usually reliable donors won’t be able to come to your rescue due to competing demands and their own financial concerns.
Now look for alternative sources of financial support. If you haven’t already, see if your nonprofit qualifies for a loan under the federal government’s new Paycheck Protection Program. Loans to not-for-profit with less than 500 employees can be forgiven so long as you keep people on the payroll and adhere to other guidelines.
Community foundations are another key source of emergency funding. More than 250 community foundations in all 50 states have created COVID-19 relief funds. Built for speed and flexibility, these funds have already announced $64 million in grants to local nonprofits directly addressing the crisis. Many private foundations and government funders have also stepped up to the plate by removing grant restrictions. Get in touch with current grantmakers to see if they can help ease burdens and increase monetary support.
Now is also the time to touch base with restricted gift donors. Explain that by removing restrictions, they enable your not-for-profit to deploy funds where they’re most needed now. Finally, let all donors know that federal tax rules have been relaxed for certain charitable contributions.
It’s impossible to predict how long and severe the COVID-19 crisis will be, so prepare your organization for a tough fight. Contact your Warady & Davis LLP advisor at 847-267-9600 or firstname.lastname@example.org for help assessing your financial position and for advice about the new tax provisions.
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