Helping Nonprofits Weather the COVID-19 Storm

OpEd by Marnie Taylor, President and CEO
Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits

This month, I was hoping to write about the 2020 Census. We have been gearing up for this moment for months, and we were excited to roll out a big campaign. It has, unfortunately, been interrupted.

Over the last four weeks, our lives – both personally and professionally – have been overturned by the Coronavirus. It certainly hit home in a big way at the Oklahoma City Thunder game against the Utah Jazz along with the first reported cases. These were the moments where we knew our lives would be changed dramatically. Four weeks ago, I gathered my leadership team at the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and we started to map out what the scenario looked like. Within just 24 hours, events were cancelled left and right. We ended up postponing our ONE Awards event until August.

We also moved to gather, educate and support all of the nonprofits in the state. We jumped to purchase technology that would allow us to virtually meet with everyone and focused on working together with our member nonprofits. I think almost all of us in the business world are now readily familiar with the grids of photos of friends and colleagues on large conference calls. Even if it is virtual, we have our hands out to help our nonprofit members weather a very unpredictable storm.

OKCNP also has rallied with our federal lawmakers. We hosted calls with both Sen. Lankford and Rep. Horn to discuss the most recently passed CARES Act. We especially thank the Senator for all of hard work he put into the Act to ensure nonprofits were covered. We have featured calls with our Governor, Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen, Commissioner of Labor Leslie Osborn, OESC General Counsel John Miley and DHS Secretary Justin Brown.

And philanthropists are also part of many of these conversations. While we are now sheltering in place, we are urging nonprofits to use this time to talk with their boards, take a deep look at financial situations, communicating with staff and clientele and working with their own donors about the unknowns ahead of us.

This is not going to be just a two or three week issue. The sector will have repercussions for many months after this. We hope that the public – also jarred socially and economically by these times – will continue to support their favorite charities now and into the future.

I speak from the heart to say “Stay Safe and Continue Doing All the Good You Can” at this time. I also encourage everyone sheltering in place to go ahead and log on to 2020Census.gov and take your Census. It’s just five minutes that will make world of difference for Oklahoma.

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