How to Start a Coronavirus Relief Fund for Nonprofit Employees

|6 min read Nonprofit Fundraising

Nonprofit organizations are getting hit hard by the COVID crisis. Not only are they experiencing skyrocketing demand from people in need, but social distancing has closed nonprofits and led to layoffs. As a result, nonprofit employees find themselves facing potentially devastating challenges and a Coronavirus relief fund for nonprofit employees can help.

Arts & cultural institutions have closed, losing ticket revenue and laying off staff. Organizations servicing students and seniors can’t provide services because of social distancing rules. The costs of essential social services like operating homeless shelters have spiked with the need to keep clients and employees safe.

Nonprofit organizations will need to make tough decisions about furloughing and laying off staff, providing paid sick leave, or even creating a coronavirus relief fund for nonprofit employees. As the crisis continues, nonprofit employees will face serious challenges to sustain themselves in the coming weeks and months.

Start a relief fund

How to plan your relief fund

Before your organization starts a nonprofit employee relief fund, you must first evaluate your current situation, including your organization’s financial health, then move on to planning the relief fund. To get started, here are a few things you should keep in mind as you explore the idea of creating a fund for your employees:

1. Evaluate your financial health

Take a look at your cash flow and determine if your nonprofit can afford to pay into a relief fund yourself. If your organization can afford to pay into a relief fund, it’s a great way to provide seed funds to kick off relief efforts. 

You also have to consider your organization’s purpose. Can your organization provide money to support your primary cause? Or, do you need to switch gears and focus on taking care of employees during this crisis? These are the tough questions that need to be answered, before you move forward with supplementing a relief fund.

Once your team answers the tough questions and decides what to do next, you can move on to planning other key elements of your relief fund. 

2. How will the funds be disbursed

Decide how employees will receive money from the relief fund. Cash, checks, or direct deposits are all options, but make sure you know this ahead of time so there’s no confusion later. Make sure your accounting team is aware of what you decide and disbursements are carefully monitored so every employee is compensated fairly. 

3. Scheduling the disbursement of funds

Employees may need funds right away so don’t delay getting the money out to them. However, plan for when the funds are to be released. Try to keep things as organized as possible and decide when funds will be disbursed. Depending on what makes sense for your organization, you can choose to send out money to employees on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. 

4. Identify all stakeholders

As part of your plan, make sure you identify all stakeholders. These will be the people who manage the relief fund and disburse funds. Ensure these individuals are updated on any changes to the fund and are able to answer any questions that employees may have. Remember to also keep communication open between stakeholders and employees. 

5. Anticipate tough questions from employees

As part of your plan, anticipate some tough questions your employees may have. In such uncertain times, employees may feel anxious or worried about many things. Ask employees to communicate with you, and be prepared to answer tough questions. Do your best to answer questions and communicate honestly if you don’t know the answer to questions. During this time, transparency and communication is important in order to help employees feel at ease.

6. Create documentation for your employees

Make an effort to create as little friction as possible for employees during this stressful time. A great way to do this is by creating centralized documentation for any important information. By documenting everything that’s needed in one place, employees can easily access the information they need without creating additional work for you. Create a resource center where employees can view key information about everything related to your employee relief fund. 

7. Choose a platform for your relief fund

Getting coronavirus relief for nonprofit employees requires good planning on your part and making sure you select the right platform. When choosing the right platform, consider how easy it is to set up your relief fund, how fast funds can be delivered, adequate support, and a trustworthy site. All of these elements are a key part of what’s made GoFundMe Charity the right platform for nonprofit causes. Right now GoFundMe Charity has already started to lead the way when it comes to understanding the needs of nonprofits during this crisis, which includes facilitating the process to create COVID-19 relief funds for nonprofit employees.

8. Leverage your network

Don’t be afraid to leverage your network of supporters. Ask your usual supporters and volunteers to donate or share the relief fund for employees. While it may feel uncomfortable to ask, supporters who love your organization will be more than willing to help the employees that work for their favorite charitable cause. 

Other ways nonprofits can help employees

If starting a nonprofit employee relief fund is not an option for your organization or you want to find more ways to help, here are some options to consider: 

1. Food assistance programs

While it’s desirable to provide coronavirus relief for nonprofit employees through direct funds to them, getting food and other basics for employees is just as important. To connect employees with food assistance programs, contact organizations like Feeding America or use their food bank directory to locate a local food bank

2. Contact existing relief funds & seek assistance

Contact other relief funds or put your employees in touch with those relief fund organizations. This may be the best option for organizations that can’t create their own relief fund. If this is your only option, be sure to help employees understand that funds from these large relief funds may not be available immediately. 

3. Help employees find mental health services

Finding free or low-cost mental health services for employees during this difficult time is another great way to provide support. Start by contacting your local mental health services offices and ask what low-cost or free counseling options are available. You can also look into online counseling options through companies like Talkspace. Talkspace can be much more affordable than traditional in-person counseling and employees can do video calls from home. 

Take action now

Now that you know some of the basics for providing coronavirus relief for nonprofit employees, you can take the next step and take action today. By starting a nonprofit employee relief fund you can help alleviate some of the stress and worry that your employees are experiencing as a result of this crisis. Creating a relief fund is easy with the right platform, like GoFundMe Charity, and you can get started today. 

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