We are inspired by the leadership we’ve seen within our nonprofit sector this past week in response to the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus). We are all confronted with hard decisions and the need to act quickly to uphold our larger, collective mission: protecting the health of our greater community and centering our shared humanity. As we have been having our own difficult conversations, we fully recognize the weight of balancing the health of our staff members and our community with how to stand by and continue to support those already in a vulnerable position who are always disproportionately affected in crisis situations.
Propel Nonprofits’ staff and leadership, like all of you, have spent hours this week huddled in meetings and conference calls. We have felt the anxiety during our emotional check-ins and encountered the discomfort that comes as we prepare for changes in how we work together in the coming weeks. We have been buoyed by the countless examples of compassion, thoughtfulness, and humanity we’ve seen from our friends and partners. It’s also been an opportunity to lean deeper into our values to guide our decisions and next steps.
What Does This Mean and Look Like for our Work?
More details are coming soon, but we have decided that we will NOT be holding the 2020 Nonprofit Finance & Sustainability Conference in-person, but instead will transition this to a virtual conference. Given that we had to cancel this event last year due to the April blizzard and the number of stakeholders involved, this has been a hard decision. We’re grateful to our partners at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, who are actively and diligently spearheading the many logistics this entails.
Our Fundamentals of Nonprofit Finance training next week on March 18 is canceled and refunds or transfers will be offered. Our free webinars will continue as planned. For other upcoming in-person trainings in late April and May, we’ll be following updates from the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health and will keep our website updated. However, our plan is to offer those trainings virtually if needed rather than canceling them.
Propel Nonprofits’ office will be open to the public through Monday, March 16. After that, we will transition to operating virtually, closing our office space. Update: our staff will work remotely through at least the end of April, but we remain committed to continuing to provide services virtually. We will reassess the situation at that time. We’ve canceled all in-person events for the remainder of March and will be moving other meetings to video or conference calls.
If you find yourself with meeting-free time on your hands, we recommend exploring our free nonprofit resource library.
How We Are Leaning into Our Values to Make Decisions
We’re continuing to champion nonprofits. In the midst of rapidly moving updates and recommendations, paired with inconsistent communication at the state and federal levels, nonprofits are once again stepping in to fill gaps. They’re also leading the way when it comes to calling out our shared responsibility to act while also elevating how this outbreak puts pressure on the weak spots in our support systems for our neighbors most at risk – those without insurance or paid time off, people without the option of working from home, people who are elderly, people with disabilities, or those who have compromised immune systems. We’re looking at how we can be present for nonprofit leaders, staff, and boards serving many of these vulnerable populations while doing our part to contain the spread of the virus.
We are staying curious as we discuss our plans for the 2020 Nonprofit Finance & Sustainability Conference that we host in partnership with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, as well as our other trainings, to remain open to options available and to take the multiple stakeholder perspectives into consideration.
We are working to be mutual and trusted partners, with our clients, our partners, and with each other. We’re trusting we can stay in relationship and keep doing our work even if in different spaces and across different channels, but also that the pace of work will be different.
We remain committed to advancing justice in the face of heightened uncertainty, fear, and a magnification of existing injustices. Now is a time to be vocal against xenophobia, especially that expressed toward our colleagues and community members of Asian descent who are being stigmatized and discriminated against in the wake of the Coronavirus. It’s the time to support artists and local businesses and nonprofits facing funding uncertainties. It’s time to keep advocating for a right to paid time off and access to equitable health care for all. But most importantly, it’s the time to take action to protect those most vulnerable to the spread of this virus in whatever ways you can.
And finally, we’re still seeking to hold on to humor and look for moments to share joy with each other. This is not to say we aren’t taking this situation and our responsibilities seriously, but rather that we believe exercising our right to optimism will only strengthen our ability to move forward together in the weeks of uncertainly ahead. We urge everyone to practice kindness with each other and to have grace with yourself.