As the world responds to the threats of COVID-19, many nonprofits and their boards are wrestling with difficult questions and decisions. In these uncertain times, as the situation rapidly changes, the board needs to provide steady and adaptive leadership in partnership with and in support of the CEO.

The board should be working closely with the chief executive to govern and manage the situation, as well as address external threats. While the CEO is responsible for operational planning and executing these plans, the board should be reviewing and responding to the organization’s strategy, and providing feedback. Both the board and CEO should be flexible in their planning, and consider all the possible ways the COVID-19 crisis can evolve. As the board reviews the organization’s plans, it should consider:

  • What aspects of this situation could affect our organization?
  • What are the organization’s greatest vulnerabilities?
  • What questions from the press would we least like to face?
  • How can we prevent worse-case scenarios from occurring?

A collaborative and adaptive approach to crisis planning and management will ensure that both staff and board perspectives are heard. A variety of perspectives should be considered in developing a plan, including but not limited to, a human resources specialist, a financial officer, and a legal authority for the organization. A plan should also clearly define the roles for the board and staff to avoid confusion.

Read the full article about nonprofit board members addressing COVID-19 by Joy Folkedal and Lindsay Tallman at BoardSource.