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COVID-19: Now Is The Time For Leadership

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, 2020.  Sadly, there won’t be much revelry this year.  No parades, no leprechauns, and no green beer.

This morning as I write this post, I am at my desk with just 3 others of my team in the office.  The other 25 are working from home for the next few weeks, starting today.  The parking lot of our office building, which is usually full, is half empty.  What should have been a 35-minute commute through Nashville traffic was instead about 18 minutes.

Such is the weirdness of living in a COVID-19 pandemic.

We haven’t seen anything like this in the US in our lifetimes.  You have to go back to the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak to see a comparable global health challenge.  That pandemic killed upwards of 50 million people, including my great-grandmother, who succumbed to the virus at age 29.  Whereas the Spanish flu targeted the young, this particular virus is targeting those least able to fight it off.

When we rang in the new year just 10 weeks ago, none of us could have imagined what is happening right now.  The economy was rocking, and 2020 was lining up to be a banner year for many of us.  Now, things are grinding to a sudden halt, the stock market has lost 33% from its high water mark, and people are scared.

Now is the time for leadership!

Yes, our nonprofits and businesses are going to take a short term hit.  This will sting!

Yes, there is much uncertainty.  Financially speaking, many are rightfully worried about their jobs and keeping their bills paid.  Many small nonprofits and businesses don’t know how they’ll get through a sustained downturn.

Those of us in leadership have a responsibility to use our platform for good.  Don’t waste this opportunity to rally your employees and volunteers to rise to the challenge.  Encourage them to follow the guidelines being asked for by our experts fighting this pandemic:  social distancing, personal hygiene, and selfless consideration of others (no hoarding!).  Encourage them that if we are all willing to do the hard things for a few weeks, hopefully we won’t have to witness the horrific things later.

We have an opportunity to keep this from getting out of control in the US.  Do it.  Be part of the solution.  Lead.

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Greg McRay is the founder and CEO of The Foundation Group. He is registered with the IRS as an Enrolled Agent and specializes in 501(c)(3) and other tax exemption issues.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Hello Greg – I just came across your site as I’ve been looking for information about our Marching Band Booster organization and COVID-19. Do you have guidance to share on refunding donations for cancelled events? We want to do the right thing by our families and the status of our organization. Thank you!


    1. Typically, donors only have an expectation of a refund when the gift was originally given for a specific purpose, and that purpose cannot or will not be pursued. It sounds like your cancelled events qualify under that definition. If that’s the case, I would recommend notifying your donors of the situation, and offering to refund their event gift. You may find some will say, “Just keep it for another time”. If they choose a refund, then simply cut them a check. Good luck with it!

  2. We all need someone to lead us especially this time of crisis. I’m inspired by those influencers who lead fundraisings to help needy people. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. How dreadful this one incident is, seeing how vulnerable we all are around our world, the richest and poorest, as no amount of money today (wealth) can make one immune to COVID-19 pandemic. Yet this many prove beneficial to humanity in that we are all abruptly denied to a large extent our unsustainable and unjust consumption, waste, and ruin of our planet, our ONLY source of life. It’s time to recognize that our planet is too small for all of us to continue growing ever-larger lives, and maybe the perfect time today for all people come together as one planet and people, making the health and justice of our planet and all life first in all our lives, before profit and politics. It’s time TODAY to stand with our striking children and all denied health and justice our world over. NOTE: has not been updated recently so check back in the coming days.

  4. Well put. It IS going to sting – there’s no way around that. And it’s definitely time for leaders to rise. Lots of people are scared and uncertain. Even more will be looking to the nonprofit sector to pick up the slack to help the hurting and we must be ready.

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