COVID-19 and quarantine have caused stress for everyone. That tension can be worsened if you work for a nonprofit. The first step is making sure you know the laws and guidelines that are in place in your area. Here’s a summary of the current guidelines that may affect nonprofits in Pennsylvania.
All employees are required to wear masks at all times.
All patrons are required to wear masks when entering, exiting, or moving around the premises but can remove them when seated.
You must either operate at 50% capacity or calculate the number of people your business can fit with every table being six feet apart.
Clean and disinfect any items that customers come in contact with (tables, chairs, menus, payment machines) after every use.
All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events is prohibited.
Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales are permitted and may continue.
Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons are prohibited.
Once you know and understand the implications these guidelines have on your business the next step is to make the best of the pandemic. The reality is people have differing views on the Coronavirus pandemic – while some are anxious to get back to life as normal, others are more cautious. It’s important to be aware of this as you consider how to reach your donors and clients/customers. Here are some tips to help your organization thrive.
If you have not kept track of your expenses and donations efficiently in the past, this is a good time to change. Look into Fundly CRM, Click and Pledge, Arreva Exceed! and Donor Action are good for platforms for small nonprofits.
Apply for any government aid that your organization is eligible for.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) provides loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The interest rate is 2.75% for nonprofits. The deadline to apply has been extended to December 31, 2021.
This provides leave for your employees that can be added to their current benefits. This credit can not exceed $511 per day per employee. 10 days maximum is allowed. ($5,110 max per employee). This act also provisions EE and ER tax withholding deductions.
This program provides a loan that can be used for payroll, group health benefits, mortgage payments, and other expenses. It is designed to cover costs for the first eight weeks of holding. Loan forgiveness is available for certain costs incurred during that time. This loan can be received faster because it is funded by private banks.
Already received a loan? You may be eligible for a second-draw PPP loan in 2021.
For more information, here’s a helpful list of FAQs for nonprofits.
Nonprofits are eligible to receive aid from the CARES Act. Tax breaks are now available for charitable donations. Taxpayers will be able to deduct an additional 300 dollars from their 2020 tax returns (for those filing separately or single, it’s extended through 2021). Make sure to communicate these changes to your supporters.
This grant is designed to help businesses waiting for the EIDL to process. Your organization must have an EIDL application in process in order to apply. Taking this grant will decrease forgiveness provisioned by the Paycheck Protection Program loan.
During times like these, technology is crucial. It’s what our world depends on everyday for a variety of different reasons — global updates, catching up with our friends and family, and more. Utilize your resources to the best of your ability!
Post any pertinent information on your website. Indicate any changes in business hours or availability. If you do not have a website there are many options available to you. Consider using platforms such as WordPress, Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace.
Consider creating a tab about how COVID-19 has affected your organization. Do you wear masks? Have you installed plexiglass? Consider making a video or taking pictures to document changes. Your supporters are curious about what’s going on. Also, make sure to update your social media.
During these times, social media is key!
Do you wear masks? Have you installed plexiglass? Consider making a video or taking pictures to document changes. Your supporters are curious about what’s going on.
Claim ownership or add your business to Google for free. Make sure to add a profile picture, your hours, address, a phone number, email, and any other social media profiles your organization has. Ask customers to leave Google Reviews. These will significantly increase your organization’s credibility.
Learn more here.
Google Analytics are vital to learning more about the advertising demographics related to your business. Use this free and convenient platform to increase your business’s influence in your town today.
Learn more here.
Search Engine Optimization entails getting consumers to your website and keeping them there. There are many ways to do this, but part of it is having good grammar, aesthetic design compelling logos, and skimmable content. Research the common keywords that are used and include them in your text and alt-text. You can also buy keywords. Make sure your URLs do not have random letters and numbers.
For more help with SEO, go to the Beginner’s Guide to SEO [Search Engine Optimization].
Identify three or four groups of people you want to reach and design content that speaks to them. Use HubSpot’s guide to get started at Final – Make My Persona Education Offer.
Facebook Pages give you the opportunity to post content such as pictures, videos, and text. The people who like your page will be able to see posts from you. Get more of your audience to like your page by posting a link to your Facebook page (and all social media) on your website.
Facebook Groups can be created by Facebook Pages and by individuals on Facebook. Your group can be open to the public or private. You can invite others who have Facebook to join your group. Facebook Groups can be great for engagement – consider creating a group for supporters of your organization. This is another way to keep in touch and post updates during a time when things are constantly changing.
Curious about who’s on Facebook? Check out the specifics in this awesome gathering of information by Sprout Social.
Instagram is a great way to put content in front of your supporters every day. The platform is image-based, but you can (and should!) add a caption to your post. You can also add hashtags to your post so more people will see them.
Instagram Stories are posts that disappear after 24 hours. You can post temporary content (closed for a day, etc.), and share content from other users that you like, to your Instagram Story. Instagram also allows you to connect with users through direct messaging.
Curious about who’s on Instagram? Check out the specifics in this beautiful display of information by Sprout Social.
YouTube is a video-based platform that allows users to create a “channel.”
If your nonprofit needs to record videos for virtual events, tutorials, testimonials, etc., YouTube is the perfect place to do it. Once you sign up, you’ll be able to upload videos to your “channel” and link to them.
Curious about who’s on YouTube? Check out the specifics in this demographic information by Sprout Social.
Alternative fundraising is a fun and creative way to get your nonprofit back on track. Check out some fundraising ideas for your charity!
Food fundraisers are a great way to increase donations for nonprofits. Visit Group Raise to search for local businesses to collaborate with, or reach out to any restaurant owners you may know. Restaurants such as Mr. Sticky’s offer fundraising options.
Amazon Smile is a simple pandemic fundraising tool that allows your supporters to support you every time they order from Amazon. A donation of 0.5% of purchases will be donated directly to your organization.
Williamsport-based graphic design and print shop, Graphic Hive is currently offering apparel fundraising options. They even post a fun leaderboard to create some healthy competition.
Host virtual fundraising events, such as online auctions. Mainstream Boutique, a women’s clothing store in Lancaster, uses Facebook live streaming to sell clothes auction style. This interactive experience allows customers to feel more connected to the boutique. The auction format also creates a sense of urgency for them to place bids.
Make sure to have a plan if a crisis arises. Determine who is in charge of writing and issuing a response. Consider making pre-planned templates of what you might say for specific situations that may arise. For more details on how to create an adequate plan, visit Hubspot’s Crisis Communications Plan webpage.
Find additional free practical COVID-19 resources at the Nonprofit Hub.
If you want to learn more about how to ensure you’re doing everything you can to stay engaged with donors and the community, Short and Sweet Communications is here to help. Elizabeth is offering free nonprofit consultations. Email her to get started.