Resources for Nonprofits Dealing with COVID-19: Cancelled Fundraisers, Remote Work, and More

Last Updated March 30, 2020

COVID-19 is shutting down schools, religious gatherings, every major sporting event, and disrupting every facet of daily life. Among these changes, many nonprofit organizations are uniquely impacted. Some rely on a single fundraiser for 10%, 50%, or more of their budget. Others have not had sufficient funds to invest in technology and training for remote work. Many rely on foundations that are watching their endowments lose value in the bear market. Nearly every organization is now scrambling to navigate this uncharted territory.

Many organizations are springing into action to help fellow nonprofits figure out what to do. I want to share some of those upcoming events and resources here. If you know of others, please share in the comments and I can add them to this post.

Tip! As we increasingly practice social distancing, it will be easy to feel isolated. Hopping on a webinar with your professional colleagues is a great way to feel connected!

Big Picture Thoughts

For some high level thoughts on the impact on nonprofits, Nonprofit AF has a good high level post on what nonprofits and foundations need to get through these temporary but profound changes. Relatedly: Wash your hands and don’t be racist.

Also, don’t miss Washington Nonprofits’ open letter to public officials and open letter to funders.

Fundraising Events & Nonprofit Management Resources from Washington Nonprofits

Washington Nonprofits is collecting resources and hosting many webinars over the next few weeks. Their Coronavirus Response Resources for Nonprofits is the clearinghouse page for all their information.

Past webinar recordings available:

  • Event Planning & COVID-19 webinar
  • COVID-19: What should nonprofits be thinking about?
  • Alternatives to Meeting in Person
  • “COVID-19: Adapting our Fundraising Strategy”

Remote Working Tips & Tools from 501 Commons & Tech Impact

Prepare. Respond. Serve. is a brand new website* launched by 501 Commons and Tech Impact to help nonprofits quickly get started with and improve their remote work setups.

Beyond the growing number of resources and tools on the website to support remote work, they hosted a “Prepare Your Nonprofit for Smooth Sailing Through COVID-19” webinar on March 18 which you can watch.

As of March 16, the website also includes free and discounted deals for nonprofit technology.

Idealware (a part of TechImpact) has just launched the report, “The Remote Option: Smart Technology for Creating Virtual Teams”.

* Fun fact! I was lucky enough to be the person to design and build this new site! We went from initial call to launch in less than 6 days.

More Tech Impact Webinars

Legal Resources from Communities Rise

Communities Rise supports many Seattle-area nonprofits and microenterprises with legal advice. That makes them an ideal source for learning about legal implications of staying open or closing your office. Their COVID-19 Resources page includes important advice for nonprofits as employers along with other general resources and a new FAQ about the $2 trillion dollar federal rescue package.

Online Day of Giving with GiveBIG WA & Seattle Foundation Emergency Fund

If you are one of the many Washington state organizations faced with cancelling one or more fundraising events, consider how GiveBIG WA can be part of your strategy to adjust. This large online day of giving comes at an ideal time, and many organizations can successfully use it to raise funds if they start planning now. Registration closes April 1, and the day of giving is May 6, 2020 (though people can schedule donations ahead of time).

Before then, Seattle Foundation is creating a COVID-19 Response Fund to provide one-time operating grants to Seattle organizations serving communities disproportionately affected by the outbreak.

Have Fun with a Being Remote!

Thanks to Kelly in the comments for sharing an awesome idea. Hop on your video platform of choice with your colleagues and supporters to see how everyone is doing and let off some steam. Obviously, BYOB.

I also love that WSCADV is sharing photos of all their pets so our supply of cute animal pics doesn’t run low. Keep thinking about ways to make the best of the change of scenery!

What else are you doing to keep up spirits in a time of social distancing?


Additional Resources & Updates

As promised, I’m adding new things as I learn about them.

Emergency Response Funds

Philanthropy Northwest has a assembled a large list of emergency response funds is the northwest, Alaska, and Hawaii. Washington Nonprofits has created a spreadsheet including additional national sources of emergency funding.

March 31 Webinar: Federal Coronavirus Relief Bills: What Do They Mean for Nonprofits?

The National Council for Nonprofits is offering a webinar on the impact of the recent federal rescue bills on nonprofits. Sign up.

NTEN’s Ongoing Open Office Hours

NTEN plans to hold open office hours for anyone interested in asking questions and sharing experiences with working from home, managing remote work, and everything else nonprofit tech and work related. Currently they have three scheduled for March 19, March 27, and April 1.

NTEN also offers awesome year-round learning opportunities. Right now, they’re offering a discounted certification to anyone with a Nonprofit Technology Conference registration since they had to cancel their amazing annual conference.

The Two Best Work-From-Home (WFH) Articles

These two articles are great because they are honest about the current times.

Impact Survey

The Give WordPress plugin is running a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on nonprofit fundraising.

Guidance for Domestic Violence Organizations

Specifically for domestic violence prevention organizations, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) and the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) both have resource pages. Much of the advice will apply to other types of organizations.

Helpful Remote Work Tools – NTEN Discussion Threads

NTEN is a wonderful community of nonprofit technologists. Their community forums are a fabulous source of sharing tools. Beyond the tools shared on Prepare. Response. Serve., these threads are a great place to learn (and contribute if you can!).

The NonProfit Times Webinar: Health, Fundraising, and Risk Assessment

The NonProfit Times is hosted a free webinar featuring a panel of health, fundraising, and risk assessment professionals to answer attendees’ questions. Slides and the webinar are now available.

Executing a Virtual Gala Webinar

Global Washington and Upaya offered a case study on Upaya’s recent virtual gala in which they exceeded their fundraising goal. Watch the recorded webinar.

Sample Policies, Guides, and Templates for Managing Nonprofits

TREC has assembled some really useful guides from their extensive resource library to help with nonprofit management issues that arise during this pandemic.

Support for Seattle Organizations & Small Businesses in other languages

ECOSS is offering a useful list of general health, safety, and economic support information on their website. But most importantly, for community organizations and businesses needing support in languages other than English, their staff is available to communicate in Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Nepali, Punjabi, Spanish, Swahili, Vietnamese.

NetSquared Online Meetups

The NetSquared Meetup will be hosting a bunch of helpful online meetups in the next month:

They’re also offering a free online course on “pivoting to remote work”, a COVID-19 forum, and additional upcoming webinars.


A Personal Note from Seattle: This is serious. Act now.

Reminder, March 25: This was written 12 days ago on March 13. In many ways things have significantly changed in that time. But in other ways, things haven’t. We still need everyone (including our President) to take this seriously, stay inside, and fight this aggressively. By changing our behavior starting yesterday, we will save lives and be able to get back to normal sooner.

As I write from the current epicenter of the pandemic in the US, it has become clear just how serious this is, how inevitable the virus’s spread is, and how things are already much worse than current statistics may suggest. Purely in my role as a citizen, I encourage everyone to read Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now for an extremely compelling and evidence-based accounting of why we must immediately take measures that may seem drastic in other parts of the country.

From the article:

You might have fears today: What if I overreact? Will people laugh at me? Will they be angry at me? Will I look stupid? Won’t it be better to wait for others to take steps first? Will I hurt the economy too much?

But in 2–4 weeks, when the entire world is in lockdown, when the few precious days of social distancing you will have enabled will have saved lives, people won’t criticize you anymore: They will thank you for making the right decision.

Don’t panic, but don’t delay any longer to prepare and take precautions. If you aren’t inconvenienced by the changes you’re making in your life, you aren’t doing enough. You can learn more about how buying time helps us save lives in the followup article, Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance.

Task #1 is to take care of yourself. Task #2 is to take care of your family, friends, and community. Task #3 is to support the organizations and institutions that make your community better.

Hopefully this post helps do that, even if just a little.

3 thoughts on “Resources for Nonprofits Dealing with COVID-19: Cancelled Fundraisers, Remote Work, and More”

  1. For what it’s worth: we use and love Zoom for our virtual meetings, and last week invited 20 of our most involved supporters to a last-minute virtual happy hour (“Bring a beverage, turn on your video, and let’s see how this works”). 18 of them showed up, we spent some time talking about favorite distractions in the form of books/movies/TV/podcasts, and agreed we needed to make it a weekly thing. It was awesome, and I highly recommend it!

      1. (We also just scheduled a virtual group-Shakespeare-reading with our friends, but that was mostly to make our teenagers roll their eyes.)

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