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COVID-19 Rapid Response Checklist for Nonprofits


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How should nonprofit leaders adjust to the new reality of operating under COVID-19? This detailed checklist can help you understand the actions needed to protect team health, improve financial resilience, and continue executing on your mission with clarity and impact.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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COVID-19 Rapid Response Checklist for Nonprofits

  1. 1. APRIL 2020 COVID-19 Rapid Crisis Response for Non-profit Organizations
  2. 2. 1 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. BCG's COVID-19 Rapid Crisis Response Checklist for Non-profits Execution clarity Coordinate & scale response & planning adaptively Engage the organization Empower teams, re- skilling where needed Protect organization from increased security & reputational risks Lead with purpose & integrity Collaborative implementation Team health & safety Alleviate stress & boost morale Reduce risk of transmission to staff (e.g., hygiene & cleaning, new ways of working) Support those who are / may be infected Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements Share best practices with other organizations Strength of impact Launch programmatic emergency response Adapt programming to minimize disruption Reinforce supply chain against risks Adapt advocacy strategy & messaging Prepare for 'bounce back' scenarios (e.g., study impact on SDGs & mission, and adjust strategy) Build alliances, align advocacy and complement programs to amplify impact Financial resilience Exercise cost discipline, while ensuring continuity & emergency response Mitigate loss of funding and design contingency plans Step up emergency fundraising efforts Explore new forms of collaboration Share resources to maximize effectiveness and efficiency
  3. 3. 2 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. Table of contents Alleviate stress and boost morale Reduce risk of transmission to staff Support those who are/ may be infected Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements Launch programmatic emergency response Adapt programming to minimize disruption Reinforce supply chain against risks Adjust advocacy strategy & messaging Prepare for 'bounce back' scenarios Exercise cost discipline, while ensuring continuity and emergency response Mitigate sudden loss of funding and design contingency plans Step up emergency fundraising efforts Explore new forms of private sector collaboration Coordinate & scale response & planning adaptively Engage the organization Empower the team, re- skilling where needed Protect organization from increased security and reputational risks Lead with purpose and integrity A A A A Share best practices with other organization Build alliances, align advocacy and complement programs to amplify impact Share resources to maximize effectiveness and efficiency A Team health and safety Strength of impact Financial resilience Execution clarity Collaborative implementation B C D B C D E B C D B C D E B C
  4. 4. 3 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. Alleviate stress & boost morale A B C D Hygiene and cleaning  Adjust workplace cleaning protocol (e.g., increase in-office cleaning, reinforce station changeover SOPs)  Conduct health/temperature check for employees/visitors where warranted  Communicate personal hygiene good practices; educate on social distancing  Provide masks, wipes, and other protective equipment for onsite and field employees New ways of working  Separate teams to work in different, satellite locations and/or non-overlapping time slots  Restrict use of office for certain groups (e.g., visitors, non-critical personnel) and reduce in-person meetings (e.g., trainings)  Establish work-from-home (WfH) policies where possible and ensure appropriate technological infrastructure support (e.g., IT solutions, VPNs, virtual meetings)  Adjust travel policies (e.g., reduce non- essential travel, reduce cross-facility travel & third-party presence) and modify sick leave policies to encourage precaution  Launch mandatory trainings to educate staff on new ways of working Reduce risk of transmission to staff Support those who are / may be infected Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements  Communicate proactively about all aspects of the business and efforts undertaken; organize information sessions and calls to address questions directly from staff in the field  Set-up a central hot line (e.g. phone number, mailbox, Slack channel) to answer direct questions of staff in the field  Prepare to support staff in case of changes in environment (e.g., policy changes in the case of a reduction in government services such as school closures)  Start thinking about implications for compensation and working hours in a time of uncertainty (e.g. offer flex leave /part-time for parents, relax 9-5 rules)  Increase care for staff, partners & volunteers, especially as they work longer hours or become ill under pressure (e.g., free counseling, health & well-being sessions)  Address potential workplace bullying or other acts of hostility when work environment becomes more stressful & understaffed  Prepare for potential staff increases in critical areas and repatriation of staff & partners when necessary (e.g., special visas, emergency travel)  Introduce employee self-quarantine policy based on travel history/health status  Create a safe channel for employees to notify company about an infection  Provide contact information for tele- docs for remote counseling (and expand availability if needed)  Establish policies around forced time off in case of infection/quarantine and refine paid time off policies—and return guarantees—to prevent sick employees from coming to work  Identify, monitor, and protect critical personnel, roles, and activities  Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g., OSHA, FMLA, ADA in the US)  Engage with work councils and unions as appropriate for respective region(s) of operation  Negotiate special permits with local governments to ensure staff continue to deliver programming / emergency response  Strengthen legal support to file & comply with new potential local regulations Strength of impact Financial resilience Execution clarity Collaborative implementation Team health and safety Home page
  5. 5. 4 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. Prepare for 'bounce back' scenarios EAdapt programming to minimize disruption B Continuity of core operations  Analyze impact of crisis on current programming & revisit targets (e.g., staff on sick leave, movement restrictions, risks to offshored shared services)  Create clear triage decision tree to identify critical programmatic activities  Reduce non-critical operations (e.g., non-critical group activities) to limit transmission and free-up resources  Design phased adaptation plan for critical activities for different stages of the crisis, with key pre- aligned decisions New ways of working  Design new ways of working to implement programs (e.g., remote education in most advanced countries, meal delivery vs. canteens, home delivery of medical supplies vs. central distribution center)  Systematically analyze field work processes to address riskier steps  Institute weekly best-practice sharing (e.g. calls, emails) C Reinforce supply chain against risks  Set up rapid response team to triage logistics / shipment requests from programs  Mobilize central "war room" to monitor ongoing supply risks & address vulnerabilities  Project key item shortages for each program, with allocation processes for constrained assets  Prioritize health & safety-critical products & services, ensuring alignment with vendors upstream & with programs downstream  Collaborate with most critical suppliers and prepare contingency plans for potential risks (e.g., border closings, export restrictions on medicines or medical equipment, increased lawlessness)  Explore new local partnerships or sourcing to optimize resources (e.g. share with other non-profit)  Strengthen security measures for items at great risk of theft (e.g., protective personal equipment, medicines, food)  Institute "COVID-19 Supplier Audit" to vet potential fraudulent activity among new suppliers Scenario analysis  Conduct scenario analysis on impact on lead times & programming in ~3-12 months, not just immediate term  Prepare for prolonged 'bounce back' period, depending on shape & evolution of pandemic Impact on SDGs & mission  Study impact of crisis on SDGs & mission, adjusting strategy & resource allocation as needed  Consider launching new strategy refresh to re-define priorities in post-crisis environment  Ensure COVID impact on targets is measurable & traceable, to avoid potential backlash post-crisis & ensure clear reporting to donors  Adapt strategy to changing donor landscape & new fundraising mechanisms Post-crisis operations  Develop plans to re-absorb or re- distribute emergency response units & resources (e.g. new hires, supplies, not used funds, organization design)  Revisit lessons learned from other crises (e.g., Ebola)  Set up central emergency response taskforce with appropriate technical expertise  Re-train & re-purpose staff from current programming, without detracting significantly from core operations  Identify where the organization can deliver unique, catalytic change along the 'crisis response value chain'  Offer to repurpose facilities, infrastructure, and/or staff to support local governments & other non-profits in their response  Institute strict impact measuring (with real-time reporting) to show impact for unit of funding (and guarantee ex-post reporting) A Launch programmatic emergency response D Adjust advocacy strategy & messaging  Ensure attention to core mission is not diverted completely to address crisis  Tie crisis response to core mission in tangible ways (e.g., COVID-19 also impacts education, child protection, food security, inclusive growth, climate change)  Leverage advocacy team & media channels to spread awareness around prevention & measures to 'flatten the curve'  Keep longer-term implications top of mind for governments, and highlight need for recovery plans (e.g., impact of school closure on graduation rates, mental health issues compounded by isolation) Financial resilience Execution clarity Collaborative implementation Team health and safety Strength of impact Home page
  6. 6. 5 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. Exercise cost discipline, while ensuring continuity A B C DMitigate funding loss and design contingency plans Explore new forms of collaboration Step up emergency fundraising efforts  Ensure procurement control tower in place (e.g., PO authorization processes, active management of open POs & delivery schedules)  Variabilize cost as much as possible (e.g., enabling voluntary LOAs, slowing or pausing discretionary hiring)  Secure short-term liquidity with strict cash- flow forecasting and management  Understand employee base (e.g., best attendance records, longest history with company) to prepare for uncertain future  Avoid conducting business-as-usual under pre-crisis assumptions (e.g., signing lease agreements or renewals)  Mitigate or redirect discretionary spending to build financial flexibility (cautiously select marketing channels based on higher ROI during epidemic)  Stress-test cash flow from financing / investing based on market scenarios (e.g., securing credit lines / revolvers, engaging with debt holders / banks to discuss potential for extended financing)  Review commitments, MAC clauses & Force Majeure for prior non-critical purchases  Potentially use bridge source of financing (e.g. intermediaries, banks) or innovative financing options for critical operations Institutional, Corporate and HNWI  Model scenarios of potential shift in donor priorities and link to organization's core mission (e.g., diverted attention to domestic)  Identify key strategic donors and proactively engage in medium- and long-term conversations (e.g. educate long-term COVID-19 impact)  Explore with donors the potential to redirect restricted funds to mission-critical activities  Identify more crisis resilient corporate donors and focus on them mid-term efforts Individual donors  Engage more actively with your existing funders to minimize dip in donations and reduce disengagement post-crises  Explore and expand modern fundraising methodologies  Conduct strict review of campaigns and prioritize few with highest historical / potential ROI  Shift physical fundraising efforts (e.g., door-to- door, stores) to online channels (e.g., social media, volunteer crowdsourcing, online sales)  Understand your donors and be efficient with your time, targeting larger gifts (e.g., Disaggregate corporate donors sectors and identify one that would benefit most from link with COVID-19 response)  Design sound theory of change for your emergency response effort and link to stringent impact measurement, in order to show donors 'best bang for the buck'  Engage with your donors and don't let the crisis stop you from asking for support, while being mindful of the context and how your donors are being impacted  Set up dedicated cross-functional fundraising team (e.g., finance, technical expertise, programming, donor relationship) to tap quickly into new revenue streams (e.g. DFIs/DAs awards)  Launch crowdfunding campaign to support emergency response efforts  Look at innovative fundraising channels (e.g. impact funds, social bonds) to scare response quickly  Use emergency messaging to inspire confidence in the enduring impact of your organization, and avoid implying that it may be in danger of collapse  Investigate new opportunities for collaboration beyond fundraising, such as in crisis response or operational continuity (e.g., medical staff transfer, virtual instruments for staff & beneficiaries)  Partner with large corporations to diversify revenue sources (e.g., leverage marketing agencies to build crowdfunding momentum, encourage social entrepreneurship models i.e., % of profits directed to crisis response efforts)  Support private corporations in scaling up their philanthropic effort by providing know-how and reach to larger beneficiary base (e.g., food industry willing to distribute nutrition products, educational institution setting up remote learning spaces) Strength of impact Execution clarity Collaborative implementation Team health and safety Financial resilience Home page
  7. 7. 6 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. Coordinate & scale response & planning A B CEngage the organization Empower teams, re- skilling where needed Lead with purpose & integrity Protect from security & reputational risks D E  Gauge current sentiment within organization (e.g., via short online survey, dedicated communication channels, cascading team calls)  Provide honest & frequent 360- communication through multiple channels  Set up a digital information hub for all the latest policies and information  Unlock discretionary effort beyond regular roles and responsibilities by suggesting “if you want to be involved in X, then contact Y"  Establish a two-way communication/Q&A channel  Protect your organizational culture during the crisis [see: BCG Perspective]  Ensure leadership / board continuity  Set up a central, cross-functional, rapid-response team (e.g., PMO or Taskforce) to make clear & efficient decisions as situation evolves  Define strategic role, what it will take, by when and how  Design who is on the teams and identify resources and capabilities needed for deployment  Build central view of potential impacts of medium-term scenarios on team & funding  Create a risk log & contingency plan for all key functions & activities  Develop a central communication calendar and content in a fast moving context  Build dashboard to track progress and proactively identify roadblocks / delayed activities  Tell your employees what they should be doing in order to prevent organizational paralysis, confusion and misinformation— communicate, communicate, communicate!  Provide clear direction on operational boundaries and principles (e.g., owned and shared accountabilities, decisiveness, entrepreneurial mindset, act rapidly & flexibly be engaged) to enable frontline leaders to execute  Ensure medical staff are trained & equipped to manage a COVID- 19 patient, if applicable to programs  Train & equip non-medical staff to manage COVID-19 related impacts on their day-to-day jobs  Identify potential staff with medical training / experience, who might step up on COVID- efforts  Empower team with remote working tools & take advantage of special offers for NPOs [List of free collaboration tools]  Anticipate potential increases in fraudulent activity (e.g., cybersecurity hacks, disruptions in virtual communication with partners in the field, hijacked money transfers, false advertising to solicit charitable donations)  Strengthen internal security measures (e.g., phishing firewalls, educate staff to recognize frauds, web-scraping of fundraising under non-profit name/logo)  Create central security team to track and react to warnings (e.g., hot-line for staff to signal false fundraising efforts)  Find ways to support your employees, community and society  Reinforce your vision, mission & purpose and/or highlight critical elements of your company’s value to customers  Demonstrate concrete linkages between your mission & COVID-19  Provide clear, consistent & frequent messaging about the impact of COVID-19 on the organization and how leadership is addressing it  Communicate clearly to staff new priorities and trade-off decisions, ensuring coherent application and implementation throughout the organization Strength of impact Collaborative implementation Team health and safety Financial resilience Execution clarity Home page
  8. 8. 7 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. A B C  Ask large international organizations (e.g. UNDP, WFP) to share their health and security policies & protocols for central and field staff  Where applicable, share own internal trainings with other (smaller) organizations  Coordinate creation of COVID-19 hot line (e.g. mailbox, slack channel) with other organization close to yours to share Q&As from staff  Institute 30min weekly calls with other managers leading through COVID-19 emergency  Foster collaboration among local teams to build support network for field staff & staff partners in more remote locations (where traditional remote wellbeing services might not be available)  Foster collaboration among legal and finance teams to share templates of new contracts / employment frameworks across different legislations  Subscribe to shared wellbeing services (e.g. counselling services) in consortium with other organizations to create scale and bargaining power Share best practices with other organization Build alliances, align advocacy and complement programs to amplify impact Share resources to maximize effectiveness and efficiency  Advocate for global solidarity & international cooperation with governments & other non-profits (e.g., to share knowledge & capabilities in vaccine development)  Build collaborations with other key actors in the ecosystem to deliver critical programming (e.g., large pharma on vaccine R&D, EdTech companies on at-home schooling)  Explore partnerships with other companies & non- profits to optimize resources and, where possible, consolidate point of contact with beneficiary to minimize risk of transmission (e.g., leverage local restaurants to deliver meals, deliver health and financial inclusion services at the same time)  Adjust program planning to create complementary impact to other organizations and government effort within the region  Share inventory of health and safety critical items with other INGOs to minimize program suspensions  Build common repository with other non-profits and organizations to share fraud warnings, detection techniques and vetting of potential suppliers  Collaborate with financial institutions to heighten transparency & traceability of money transfers  Set-up consortiums / collaborations with complementary organization to award institutional and corporate funding by addressing COVID-19 first- and second-order effects at 360°  Offer staff to support other organizations & corporations to reduce financial pressure (e.g., cost- sharing via shared services), and vice versa (e.g., deploy staff from other non-profits to support core programming)  Share non-monetary resources with other organizations in the geography to use all assets efficiently Strength of impact Team health and safety Financial resilience Execution clarity Collaborative implementation Home page
  9. 9. Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. 8 Many companies are offering free collaboration tools / licenses for non-profit organizations Google Hangouts Premium is free through July 1 Microsoft Teams is available for free for six months GoToMeeting is offering their remote work tools free for three months Nonprofits focused on fighting COVID-19 can access three months of free Dropbox Premium CISCO is boosting the capabilities of Webex free version in countries where it is available Slack pledged to make the paid version of its chat app free to anyone supporting COVID-19 response Home page
  10. 10. Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. 9 Explore BCG’s latest thought leadership on Social Impact and navigating the COVID-19 emergency on LinkedIn An overview of BCG's COVID-19 thinking & materials can be found on Click here to access BCG on Social Impact Click here to access BCG's COVID-19 content
  11. 11. 10 Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved. The situation surrounding COVID-19 is dynamic and rapidly evolving, on a daily basis. Although we have taken great care prior to producing this presentation, it represents BCG’s view at a particular point in time. This presentation is not intended to: (i) constitute medical or safety advice, nor be a substitute for the same; nor (ii) be seen as a formal endorsement or recommendation of a particular response. As such you are advised to make your own assessment as to the appropriate course of action to take, using this presentation as guidance. Please carefully consider local laws and guidance in your area, particularly the most recent advice issued by your local (and national) health authorities, before making any decision.
  12. 12. 11 The services and materials provided by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) are subject to BCG's Standard Terms (a copy of which is available upon request) or such other agreement as may have been previously executed by BCG. BCG does not provide legal, accounting, or tax advice. The Client is responsible for obtaining independent advice concerning these matters. This advice may affect the guidance given by BCG. Further, BCG has made no undertaking to update these materials after the date hereof, notwithstanding that such information may become outdated or inaccurate. The materials contained in this presentation are designed for the sole use by the board of directors or senior management of the Client and solely for the limited purposes described in the presentation. The materials shall not be copied or given to any person or entity other than the Client (“Third Party”) without the prior written consent of BCG. These materials serve only as the focus for discussion; they are incomplete without the accompanying oral commentary and may not be relied on as a stand-alone document. Further, Third Parties may not, and it is unreasonable for any Third Party to, rely on these materials for any purpose whatsoever. To the fullest extent permitted by law (and except to the extent otherwise agreed in a signed writing by BCG), BCG shall have no liability whatsoever to any Third Party, and any Third Party hereby waives any rights and claims it may have at any time against BCG with regard to the services, this presentation, or other materials, including the accuracy or completeness thereof. Receipt and review of this document shall be deemed agreement with and consideration for the foregoing. BCG does not provide fairness opinions or valuations of market transactions, and these materials should not be relied on or construed as such. Further, the financial evaluations, projected market and financial information, and conclusions contained in these materials are based upon standard valuation methodologies, are not definitive forecasts, and are not guaranteed by BCG. BCG has used public and/or confidential data and assumptions provided to BCG by the Client. BCG has not independently verified the data and assumptions used in these analyses. Changes in the underlying data or operating assumptions will clearly impact the analyses and conclusions. Copyright©2020byBostonConsultingGroup.Allrightsreserved.
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