Peter Nyberg on What Non-profits can Learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Peter Schieffelin Nyberg

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a strain on all businesses, the non-profit sector has been hit especially hard. That’s because while funding has slowed for many charities, those who rely on these organizations need them more than ever.

One person who knows about the challenges faced by non-profits is Peter Nyberg, who serves as Chief Financial Officer at the Camino Community Center in Charlotte, NC. While the organization rolled out many effective changes to continue helping its base when the pandemic hit, it has been a new learning experience that continues to be a challenge as the situation unfolds.

One of the biggest challenges, of course, is maintaining cash flow to continue operations and fulfill the mandate of the non-profit. However, while some may not be able to host large fundraising events as in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are other ways to tap into donations.

Use Electronic Methods to Reach New Donors

If your non-profit hasn’t been using social media to its fullest capacity yet, now’s definitely the time, explains Peter Nyberg. You should be using these channels to spread awareness of the need for your services in your area and how vital your organization is, while also sharing personal stories of the people you’ve positively impacted.

You can turn to other electronic tools to boost your fundraising power. For example, there are “gamified” online platforms that provide a more engaging experience for a donor along with the happy feelings of supporting a non-profit.

Target Your Biggest Existing Supporters

Sometimes non-profits don’t have the time or resources to reach out to new donors, which is why you should focus on ones you already have, explains Peter Nyberg. Send targeted messaging to these more prominent and consistent donors by explaining your response to COVID-19 and how their funds will be used.

The key is creating immediacy, both for the organization and those who receive support through the charity.

Redirect Employee/Volunteer Efforts

While restrictions might mean less people working together under one roof, your non-profit can look for ways to utilize volunteers and staff in other ways, explains Peter Nyberg. For example, you can train an employee or volunteer on how to connect with someone in need online rather than in-person or have them safely deliver goods, which has been common with food banks.

You could also look to your volunteer base to find out if any of them can help you with your marketing or IT requirements instead of front-line care. If you’ve temporarily suspended recruiting volunteers, encourage them to make a monetary donation in the meantime.

There might even be an opportunity to collaborate with other nonprofits in your area that have overlapping services or are serving the same base. This can lead to pooling of resources to increase reach, but it’s something to carefully consider.

Philanthropy is Actually Rising

Despite millions of Americans losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19, you should know that giving to non-profits has hit a high this year. Part of this might be that legislation changed how much Americans can write off from charitable contributions, but much of the increase has come in the form of grants managed by donor-advised funds.

The bottom line is that there are many people that want to help non-profits as much as non-profits want to help people and that is both encouraging and an opportunity to survive and thrive, says Peter Nyberg.

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