COVID-19: What nonprofits need to know

In recent months, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dominated the global news cycle, with concerns about an outbreak in the U.S. increasing daily. As information — some accurate and valuable, some not — floods our media outlets, social media, and conversations, it is important for Minnesota nonprofits to examine the realities, internal biases, myths, and potential impacts of COVID-19 on our organizations and the communities we serve.

As with any emergent situation that might threaten business operations, organizations are urged to examine and reflect on important questions like: What should your nonprofit be doing to prepare for a potential Coronavirus outbreak? Do you have an existing disaster-preparedness plan in place for events that could impact your staff, operations, and mission? How could the community you serve be impacted?

The Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF), in partnership with MCN and the State of Minnesota, hosted a webinar, Preparing Minnesota’s Independent Sector for Coronavirus. Its purpose was to help nonprofits and foundations think about their own internal continuity of operations, as well as thinking about the external services they provide and how needs may evolve and increase as a result of an outbreak. Our featured speaker was Tanya Gulliver-Garcia from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Download Webinar and PowerPoint Slides

As nonprofits and their communities make plans and navigate this outbreak, and any that might come our way, it is important to consider how internal bias, and dangerous rhetoric and actions might show up even in the best laid plans. Thanks to MCN members and staff for sharing the following resources that outline how xenophobia has been impacting East Asian individuals and communities, and how respecting civil liberties in times of crisis is always more effective than turning to fear mongering and shame. Jay Stanley of the ACLU writes:

….civil liberties must sometimes give way when it comes to fighting a communicable disease — but only in ways that are scientifically justified. And the public health community has learned over time that treating sick people like potential enemies only spurs them to “go underground” and avoid the authorities, which exacerbates the spread of disease. The evidence is clear that travel bans and quarantines are not the solution. Also counterproductive are the targeting and stigmatization of vulnerable populations, another historically frequent response to frightening epidemics. (ACLU, January 28, 2020)

We will continue to provide resources like the articles and examples below as they become available.

Guidance for business operations


Event cancellation/rescheduling examples

  • PEAK 2020 (March 9-11, 2020), PEAK Grantmaking
  • AFP ICON 2020, (March 29-31, 2020), Association of Fundraising Professionals