In times of crisis, human nature is to retreat and reassess, which is exacerbated by a pandemic that restricts physical gatherings. Even when adverse impacts are minimal for a given individual, disruption of routines can cause one to press pause on voluntary obligations, especially when a return to normalcy seems to be in the foggy distant future.
However, this is exactly the time when nonprofits need all hands on deck from their boards of directors. While board recruitment practices vary greatly, ensuring that key skills/knowledge/abilities are always present on the current board is common. If you were voted onto a nonprofit board for your accounting expertise, then your advice about solvency and cash flow options might be invaluable. Likewise, you have probably been queried about applying for PPP loans and the forgiveness policy. For nonprofits that want to explore new fundraising vehicles, you can ensure awareness of situations that will activate UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax) with the IRS.
If you were sought for your legal expertise, you can help navigate the changing rules for PPP loan forgiveness. Further, with more and more information being transmitted via web applications, protecting intellectual property is becoming paramount. Responses to the pandemic, with everything from changes to protocols around service delivery to fundraising and event management, need a legal review.
Communication and social media skills have become even more critical. Building and maintaining relationships without the benefit of eye contact can benefit greatly from nonprofit marketing and relations expertise. Principles of fundraising need to be applied in new ways. Public policy experience is needed to communicate effectively with lawmakers and agency decision makers regarding the way the pandemic is affecting specific nonprofit contexts.
The legal “Duty of Care” of a nonprofit board member is typically interpreted as how an ordinary, prudent person should act in a reasonable and informed manner under any given circumstances. A pandemic is untested waters for most generations today, but regardless of your skill set, your nonprofit needs your participation now more than ever. And if every board member is newly charged and ready to help, the resulting synergy can bring amazing results that might not have been realized in pre-pandemic times.