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Given COVID-19, What Should Our Nonprofit Do?

How should your charitable organization respond to COVID-19 or other health crises?

Don't Panic! Instead, Be Prepared and Practice Social Distancing. The Board of Directors should implement a COVID-19 policy. Consider authorizing employees to work from home, have virtual meetings, and continue outreach/programming to the extent you can via electronic means. This will reduce the risk of liability to your organization and health risks to employees. In addition, have Board of Directors' meetings via electronic means. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, "When an outbreak of a disease reaches the point where it is actively spreading in a community, individual community members need to take actions too. By taking these actions, community members can help reduce the chances of getting sick and reduce demands on the health care sector so the most seriously ill people get the supportive care they need." Let's do our part to flatten the curve.

Pay attention to Public Health Authorities. As of March 13, 2020, Governor Walz placed the State of Minnesota under a peacetime declaration of emergency. When in doubt, follow the mandates of the Minnesota Department of Health and other official government recommendations. As of March 16, 2020, the Minnesota Department of Health's Recommendations are:

  • Cancel or postpone gatherings of more than 250 people.

  • Cancel or postpone smaller events that do not allow 6 feet of social distancing between people.

  • Limit attendance to smaller groups of people less than 10 people who are at higher risk (elderly and people with underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to viruses).

  • People who are 70 and older or who have underlying medical conditions (minority of the population) should isolate themselves as much as possible. Children and teens are at a low risk.

  • Stay home if you are sick.

  • Employers making teleworkers for work that can be done remotely.

  • Employers staggering work schedules and limiting non-essential work travel.

  • Cover your cough/sneezes, avoid touching eyes/nose/mouth, washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.

  • Do not buy an overabundance or “stockpile” items such as toilet paper and other items as it then makes it difficult for others to get the amount of supplies they need.

Additional Information and Resources:

(651) 201-3920 Minnesota Coronavirus Hotline

Do Some Due Diligence about your Insurance Coverage. I must preface this by saying that I’m not an insurance coverage expert by any means. If you have specific questions about your insurance policies or how they apply, I’d suggest you contact your insurance company (or insurance agent) for specific guidance. Additionally, these are extraordinary times. In times like these, we have little idea what courts, the public, or insurance companies will do during the pendency of, or immediately following, this type of emergency. If you’d like a second opinion about your insurance coverage (and to ask whether there are additional coverage you should bind), please contact us - we can help refer you to a qualified professional.

Be Gentle to Yourself and Others. We all need our emotional space, not just physical space. Being gentle with yourself just means being kind to yourself and giving yourself space for positive reflection. Put aside judgmental thoughts, know that this was not your fault, and love yourself. Care for yourself with delicate hands. Let thoughts and feelings come and go without judgement. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Share toilet paper and other necessary supplies with your neighbors and friends. Take a deep breath. Together we rise.


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