Not for Profit Organizations

April 2, 2020

Return to Pandemic Playbook main page

Not for Profit organizations have to consider the same pandemic considerations as for-profit businesses —but they also have their unique mission and stakeholders to consider.


  • Prioritize your mission and focus on the basics needed to keep the organization afloat.
  • Focus on the most vulnerable and your areas of greatest impact.
  • Ensure delegated authorities are in place and allow fast decision-making
  • Safeguard:
    • Interests of beneficiaries and stakeholders
    • Trust, reputation, and brand
    • Any income-generating activities
    • Assets
  • You will need to assess what services can be done via technology and some staff may need to have their assignments shifted
    • Social workers can meet clients by phone, facetime, zoom, etc.  They may need to be trained in how to use the technology.  You may need to have cell phones, wifi, or other technology donations for clients.
    • Social workers should be trained in understanding legislation and identifying resources for clients to obtain cash, childcare, mental health support, or homelessness prevention services.
    • Staff training or retired staff may be needed to serve as child care for health care workers.
    • Staff training and protocol needed to help provide shoppers and delivery for groceries and medicine.
    • Workforce services can direct workers towards growth sectors.


  • Look at being flexible with regard to funding, reporting, and service program deliverables.
  • Turn restricted into unrestricted funds for now.  
  • Look at providing small, fast funding for working capital
  • Look to support the most and the newly vulnerable in tangible ways



  • Consider partnering with other organizations for back-office services (finance, HR, other administration tasks) to reduce costs and focus on core mission service areas.
  • Seek appropriate partners for cost-sharing.

Improve Organization Effectiveness

  • Assess
  • Ensure there are position descriptions or role/skill profiles 
  • Require managers request in advance any overtime put in by nonexempt staff.   
  • Offer management training to the managers


  • Offer managers variable compensation opportunities based on achieving results 
  • Freeze pay increases except for certain high performers and funded programs.  Consider freezing top management pay and giving raises to other staff members
  • Develop a compensation structure based on externally competitive data and internally equitable decisions.  
  • Lengthen time of increases for those in the top quartile of pay ranges and above the max. 
  • Ask nonexempt staff to consider taking comp time rather than overtime pay, if possible. 
  • Ask for voluntary reductions in working hours and pay.
  • Reduce the salary of the highest-paid staff by 5 or 10%.  Set that aside for bonuses.
  • Staff can reclaim decreased pay through bonuses for achieving objectives
  • Some staff trying to balance work and life might like to reduce hours and pay.

Fundraising/Revenue Generation/Sustainability

  • Teach everyone to fundraise and measure results 
  • Generate Revenue in addition to grants and donations
  • Develop and enter Business Plan competitions at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Catalyst Center, Yale School of Management and others  for self-sustaining revenue generation ideas 
  • Rent out unused space, if possible, for health care needs
  • Market products produced and services to other organizations on a consulting basis
  • “Sell off” non-core “businesses”
  • Seek new forms of social financial services such as social financing through bank vehicles (bond-like) that reward investors with social and financial returns such as Deutsche Bank’s eye care fund.  These vehicles can provide funds at lower interest rates rather than the higher costs of traditional fundraising. To be effective the payback needs to be based on revenue generation by the social sector organization.


Please send suggestions to improve this playbook to


Nick Elliott



Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/customer/www/ on line 50