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Disaster and Post-Disaster Nonprofit Best Practices

Each disaster is unique, but the best preparations and reactions are timeless.

If you like these e-newsletters, please share with your colleagues.  Back issues of The Wyland Report may be found on the Sumption & Wyland web site.
The article we wrote in 2005, "What Your Nonprofit Should be Doing After Any Major Disaster," was written to address post-Katrina concerns and hearkened back to 9/11 and its effects on nonprofits.  Amazingly, the observations made in that article stand up well when considering COVID-19 and nonprofits in 2020.

Our nonprofits are experiencing their "stress test" at present, learning how well their previous disaster/crisis planning stands up to the current pandemic.  What lessons have you learned?  What has worked well and what needs a lot of work?  Now is the time to take notes as well as make mid-course corrections as you're able to do so.  Believe me, you won't remember half your observations once we're past the worst of the crisis.

Besides taking notes and making mid-course corrections in the present, start thinking about the architecture of your nonprofit organization's future.  Will the pandemic change your organization's mission or key activities?  Will it reconfirm the need for your existing mission and activities?

What research will help your organization plan when the time comes for long-term planning?  What data are available and what resources currently exist?  There's a lot your nonprofit's staff and volunteer leaders can do from their homes to research, think, and share ideas without having to make "forever" decisions under stress.

Preparing for planning is great, but what can you do now?  What immediate and short-term actions can you take this week and this month?

Immediate decisions likely include having your nonprofit apply for SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP or P3) forgivable loans along with SBA EIDL loans and other federal program support.  Many people don't realize that 501(c)(3) groups - including religious congregations - and 501(c)(19) veterans organizations qualify for SBA support, as a long as they employ fewer than 500 people (head count, not FTE).  In addition, special COVID-19 support from foundations and other funding sources is available to nonprofits. 

It's also a good time to remind your donors about the "above the line" $300 deduction for charitable gifts available to *all federal income tax filers,* regardless of income. 

For nonprofits with major donors, 2020 will look much like 2005.  Donors who itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns can give deductible gifts up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) this year, instead of the 60% of AGI before the CARES Act was passed into law.

React, document, plan to plan, and take advantage of immediate opportunities.  Remember to breathe and put one foot in front of the other.  Again, for more on responding to crises, see the article referenced above.
The Wyland Report is produced by Michael Wyland of Sumption & Wyland. Michael has more than thirty-five years of experience in nonprofit practice, public policy, and journalism.  In his practice serving nonprofit organizations, he has been a consultant, executive, and board member. He currently serves as an editorial advisory board member for The Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ), for which he has written hundreds of published articles and features.
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