The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is very much top of mind right now and the situation is changing rapidly with updated information emerging frequently from the government and public health authorities. On March 12, Oregon Gov. Brown announced banning organized gatherings of 250 people, many counties and municipalities have also declared states of emergency, and health authorities are urging all Oregonians to implement social distancing as much as possible for everyone’s health and safety, and to help slow the pace of the virus. Our hearts go out to those who have been impacted by the virus, as well as their loved ones, and we urge all nonprofits to follow public health officials and the government’s advice for your staff, all those you serve, our communities, and all Oregonians.

Given this, NAO has proactively made the decision to suspend all of our in-person programming across the state for the next four weeks, effective immediately. We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated as things change. As much as possible, we will be working to convert NAO in-person programming to virtual programming where it makes sense both for content and format. NAO staff is working on managing the programming changes, and we ask for your patience, especially those who have already registered for events. Once we have determined how our programming unfolds we will contact those who have registered to offer you options. Thank you for understanding.

NAO knows that the COVID-19 situation has a major impact on the work nonprofits deliver across the state. We already know that many nonprofits have had to cancel events, fundraisers, and are making rapid adjustments as they continue to serve our communities, which is more important than ever before. However, as Oregon’s nonprofit state association, NAO is urging you to seriously consider whether events that you have scheduled or are planning in the next few weeks are absolutely essential at this particular time – especially in the middle of a pandemic event. We know that all programs are important – NAO’s programs are as well – but ask yourself whether your event or program is absolutely essential or if you can postpone it for the benefit of everyone in our communities. These decisions are difficult ones that only your nonprofits can make, but they are critical in light of the safety of your teams, those you serve, and all Oregonians. We are also advising that nonprofits cancel all non-essential travel, increase physical space, limit in-person meetings at work, and stagger work schedules.

NAO has already reached out to Governor Brown’s office to ensure nonprofit voices are at the table not only regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 situation, but also for discussions regarding the resulting business impact on the nonprofit sector, including lost income and wages. NAO is also proactively reaching out to the region’s funders through our partnership with Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington to alert them to the enormous negative impact COVID-19 is already making on our sector and to ask for their support to immediately invest in the work we’re doing, be flexible in how their funds are being used, and support operations. 

We know this is one of the major fundraising seasons where nonprofits raise a significant portion of their revenues and we know this is hurting. For those who have had to cancel or are canceling fundraisers, consider asking those who have bought tickets to your events to not ask for refunds, but instead donate those dollars to your nonprofits in support of the important work you do.

We will be advocating and working hard on your behalf. We want to hear from you on how COVID-19 is impacting your organizations. How is your nonprofit being impacted, what are the challenges your nonprofit is having to deal with, and where what information and resources to you need. Send us your thoughts to: executivedirector@nonprofitoregon.org

We strongly encourage you to continue to follow the advice of public health officials and the government. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, practice social distancing, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We will continue to update our Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page.

We know that many nonprofits are on the frontline in situations such as this and that Oregonians rely on you to help support our communities, especially the vulnerable and those who need support. Thank you for all you do in our communities especially during this very challenging time. 

 

Sincerely,

Jim White
Executive Director