June 29, 2020

How Can You Survive the COVID-19 Financial Drought?


What a Dozen Nonprofit CEOs Can Tell You About Surviving The COVID Financial DroughtOne night, before COVID, our friend Nick joined us for dinner. Afterward, we sat in our living room with after-dinner coffee. The conversation drifted to sore backs. Nick, a deep muscle therapist, moved to the floor to illustrate a lower back technique. My husband joined him, demonstrating something he learned in physical therapy. In a minute, I showed them a similar yoga move.
At that moment, my son entered the room “What are you doing?” he asked.


Patterns of Success

My son saw three adults lying on the floor in different but comparable contortions, all designed for healthy supple backs—each reflecting both its origins and the same core principle.
Likewise, even though COVID-19 isn’t the Great Recession, the fundamentals of surviving that recession are the same patterns that your nonprofit needs to master this financial drought. When you filter out the differences between therapies and yoga, the fundaments of flexible backs emerge. Likewise, by sifting out distinctions between the Great Recession and now, the essentials of how to manage your nonprofit during financial droughts appear.

Financial Droughts Success Patterns

This spring, while talking with a client, I shared a Great Recession success story. After we hung up, I searched my computer files to find it. With the story, I found a forgotten study from 2012.
In the study, five years after the Great Recession, I interviewed more than a dozen CEOs about their experience. The study, which became the white paper, Nonprofit Income Innovations During the Great Recession. In it, I analyze the recession’s impact and revenue patterns. Three nonprofit patterns emerged, Nonprofits who five years later were in:
  • a better place,
  • hoping for better, and
  • worse off.

Discover the Patterns

Today, I am happy to share this research with you, annotated with new observations. Download the study. Read and digest it. You’ll find it enriches the financial discussions going on in your nonprofit.
Discovering patterns, reoccurring processes, lies at the heart of my advisory work with nonprofits. We succeed by repeating what works and building on success. Finding the essentials of success—in any endeavor, allows you to focus your limited resources on activities that move the needle, the 12 percent of efforts that make 88 percent of the difference. These essentials become touchstones for streamlining your work.
If you’d like to know more about surviving this financial drought, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you see your success patterns and build a customized approach so your nonprofit can be financially healthy and flexible.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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