WATCH: Strategies to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, health care professionals are sharing public health information to help people prepare, not panic, for the real possibility of the virus affecting them and their loved ones. While this information is helpful for many, it can send others into an unhealthy state of worrying. The powerlessness and anxiety we feel can morph into common symptoms, like “catastrophizing” and unhealthy fixation, or, at the other extreme, blocking it out completely – which could mean ignoring even basic precautions like hand washing. 

Guest Presenter Dr. Christine Cauffield, CEO of Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems, shares coping strategies for anyone feeling anxious about the uncertainty of these current times.

During this video, you will learn how to:

  • Avoid unnecessary information overload
  • Check your sources to minimize misinformation
  • Set a basic safety regimen (and not add to it)

Resources Referenced in the Video

More COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely in Uncertain Times

WATCH: Managing Uncertainty Amid Crisis

WATCH: DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

WATCH: How to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety

WATCH: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

WATCH: The Dos and Don’ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

As you navigate the “new normal” of nonprofit fundraising, seasoned fundraising consultant and NLC trainer Alyce Lee Stansbury shares up-to-the-minute strategies along with dos and don’ts of crisis fundraising.

After watching this video, you will:

  • Know the most effective ways to ask for gifts right now.
  • Understand how to evaluate and pivot future fundraising strategies.
  • Be able to deliver top-notch donor stewardship.
Slide from Alyce Lee Stansbury's Presentation: There is no such thing as a non-COVID essential charity. Every mission matters right now. Any diminished service offering has an impact. You. All. Matter. Everyone. You are worthy of support.

This video is designed to help executive directors and fund development teams understand how to keep your mission in the hearts and minds of supporters during the COVID-19 pandemic and any global crisis.

Resources Referenced in the Video

Find additional crisis fundraising advice from Alyce Lee:

Fundraising in Uncertain Times: 10 Ways to Mitigate Revenue Loss

How to Host Successful Online Board Meetings

More COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely in Uncertain Times

WATCH: Managing Uncertainty Amid Crisis

WATCH: DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

WATCH: How to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety

WATCH: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

How to Write a Grant Proposal

Julé Colvin, President, Pathways to Growth Tips

You’ve identified a potential funder, and now your nonprofit needs to write a grant proposal that will win money for your organization to support your constituents and communities. These six tips for how to write a grant proposal will help you raise mission-critical revenue to continue your important work. 

How to write a grant proposal | Nonprofit Leadership Center

Before You Start Writing a Grant Proposal

1. Develop your key messaging to create your grant-focused case for support.

Your nonprofit may address complex social issues, but your goal as a grant writer is to explain your organization and its work as succinctly as possible. Albert Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Before you write a grant proposal, work with your team to clarify your message.

In as few words as possible answer these pivotal questions:

  • What need does your organization or program address?
  • How do you approach the need?
  • Why is your way the best way to address the need?
  • How will you measure and report your outcomes?
  • How much money do you need from the funder, and what will you do with it?

This is your central grant language. A winning grant proposal should consistently highlight this messaging. 

2. Research the need.

Before you write a grant proposal, gather relevant research, local and national news articles and stories from the communities you serve to answer these questions:

  • Why do you support the population you serve?
  • Why do you use your designated approach with this particular population?
  • What research exists to validate your approach?
  • Is the problem your organization focuses on growing/changing?
  • If you weren’t solving this problem, what would happen?

Writing a grant proposal during uncertain times or amid a pandemic? WATCH THIS VIDEO to understand how to tackle unique needs.

3. Look for inspiration.

While excellent grant writing requires many facts and statistics to build your case, it’s also important to write from your heart. Your goal is to touch the funder’s mind, heart and wallet. Computers aren’t yet analyzing your grant proposals; people with emotions are. Look for inspiring stories within your organization and incorporate emotional language to share with the funder.

Once You Start Writing Your Grant Proposal

4. Use the funder’s preferred format.

Use the funder’s preferred format to tell your story. Some funders want a write-your-heart-out letter while others request that you fill out a formal application form.

Regardless of their format, find a way to incorporate your central grant language. Then paint a picture of the need using additional data and stories. Answer the funder’s questions through these lenses and use the funder’s language as much as possible in your application. 

5. Remind the funder of how you can help them accomplish their goals.

Does this funder want to eradicate homelessness? Improve kindergarten readiness? Ensure the adoption of animals? Reduce health disparities?

Know what problems they want to solve and be clear and concrete about how your organization can help them reach their goals. 

6.  Don’t overlook the details.

Answer application questions thoroughly. Proofread. Ask for an appropriate amount of money. Submit the proposal on time. Don’t miss an opportunity for critical funding because you forgot to focus on the small stuff.

In summary, grant writing can be a complex, frustrating, and yet, rewarding process. These tips for how to write a grant proposal will get you started on a successful path and serve as a basis to grow your grant writing skills.

Get Your Certificate in Grant Writing

If you’re new to grant writing and want to learn how to apply for a grant with excellence, join NLC and facilitator Julé Colvin to earn your Grant Writing Certificate. Through this interactive series, you’ll learn how to succeed in today’s competitive grant writing environment.

Specifically, you will …

  • Understand how to apply for a grant and create successful proposals
  • Learn how to write a grant narrative and articulate measurable and reliable outcomes
  • Get hands-on experience to develop budgets and identify funding resources
  • Be prepared for what to do after receiving a grant award
  • Receive individualized feedback from local grant professionals
  • Meet others in our nonprofit community who you can network and problem-solve with
  • Invest in your professional development to position yourself for long-term success as a nonprofit leader

See All Upcoming Learning Opportunities for Nonprofit Leaders

From grant writing and fundraising to board governance, marketing communications, HR and leadership, we offer nearly 100 nonprofit training courses and learning opportunities. See our current program schedule and register for an upcoming event here.


Julé Colvin is the founder and president of Pathways to Growth, a company that provides growth-focused services and strategies for individuals, nonprofits and businesses. Through her more than 30 years of grant writing experience, she has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits and helped take many organizations to their next levels of growth. Julé is also an NLC trainer and facilitates NLC’s Certificate in Grant Writing.

Want to be the first to hear about new nonprofit trainings, classes and offerings at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, chock-full of the latest news and resources, along with tips and tools to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

WATCH: Grant Writing in Times of Crisis

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

Grant writing is challenging in “normal” times, but when we add a crisis to the mix, many nonprofits aren’t sure where to turn next. Do we apply for grants? If so, which funders should we consider? Whether your organization is providing basic needs to help people impacted by the coronavirus or are considered less “mission-critical,” now is the time to improve and move your grant-seeking endeavors forward. While most nonprofit events have been canceled and fundraising from individual donors can be difficult in a crisis, grant-seeking continues to present a strong funding opportunity.

In this video, grant expert Julé Colvin, who teaches NLC’s Certificate in Grant Writing, shares the critical steps nonprofits can take during this time. Specifically, you will:

  • Better understand where your nonprofit fits within the current grant writing landscape
  • Learn key strategies to seek grants during this time of crisis
  • Discover the three main types of grant funder strategies during a crisis
  • Learn about current and future grant funding opportunities
  • Be inspired to use your writing skills to tell critical stories that will transform lives

Download the presentation shared in this video HERE.

Check out Julé’s articles on How to Write a Winning Grant Proposal and How to Apply for Grants.

Resources Referenced During the Presentation

Local Grant Opportunities

Government Funding Opportunities      

More COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely in Uncertain Times

WATCH: Managing Uncertainty Amid Crisis

WATCH: DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

WATCH: How to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety

WATCH: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion


To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Pivoting Together: Nonprofits Share the Eye-Opening Impact of COVID-19

Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE | CEO, NLC News

At the beginning of 2020, I encouraged nonprofit leaders to embrace four traits I believed we would all need to be successful this year. One of those was what I called “mastering the pivot” — being adaptive and responsive to the changing needs of donors and our community. Never could I have imagined just how much we would need to pivot this year. The Nonprofit Leadership Center recently issued a survey asking nonprofit CEOs and executive directors to share how the COVID-19 crisis has initially impacted their organizations and communities, as well as the most critical ways funders and donors can help fill gaps. Nearly 100 nonprofit leaders serving Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties responded.

Despite immense pressures and financial fragility, I’m deeply struck by the sincere optimism and relentless commitment of our local nonprofit sector. As I share the topline results with you today — reflections which will be the first of many as we engage nonprofit leaders throughout this crisis — it’s clear that we’re pivoting together.

KEY FINDINGS

The individuals and families that Tampa Bay nonprofits serve have six immediate concerns.

We asked nonprofit leaders to share the top three concerns or needs they’re hearing from the individuals, families and communities they serve. Tampa Bay residents have six major concerns at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis — many of which they rely on for local nonprofits to help navigate or provide.

1. Job loss and financial insecurity

Individuals and families are concerned about providing for themselves and their families because of layoffs, job uncertainty and reduced income. They’re also wondering if and how they will recover.

“Our clients are voicing concerns over jobs, money and household income because many have been laid off or told their employer is closed.”

2. Access to basic necessities to survive

Populations that were already struggling prior to the virus outbreak are more challenged than ever to access basic needs, such as food, shelter, diapers and other essentials. They fear running out of food and supplies.

“Prior to COVID-19, our families struggled with inadequate housing, homelessness, low or no wages, mental health and other adverse factors. As a result of the coronavirus, we will see an increased need for basic items such as food, assistance with housing and technology for online learning.”

3. Mental health

Fears around job loss, finances and accessing basic needs have created social and emotional strife for many people our nonprofits serve. People are anxious about the uncertainty of the future and how long this current state will last.”

“Increased social isolation in a population that’s already marginalized is leading to worse depression, increased risk of suicide and relapses in addiction.”

“People want to know how long this situation will last, what to do if/when their money runs out and how they can remain connected to family and friends.”

4. Educating and caring for children

With schools closed and an influx of parents working at home, community members are concerned about their ability to facilitate online learning for their children, gaining access to technology for e-learning and childcare while working.

“People are worried about the lack of access to digital technology for students to maximize learning online. There’s a need for technology to connect to e-learning and how to use it.”

5. Medical care and contracting the virus

Throughout the community, many people are worried about contracting the virus, especially those who have immune-compromised children or family members. Additionally, many vulnerable populations are worried about delays in medical care and losing insurance.

“There is a fear of being diagnosed and what happens if the virus spreads to an entire facility or family … parents working in essential jobs are concerned about exposure to their family.”

6. Navigating COVID-19 communications

With an explosion of information that changes by the day, individuals and families are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of communications and what they should know.

“Our constituents are concerned about the inability to understand the tremendous amount of information they are receiving from schools and social service providers.”

Every nonprofit has been affected by the coronavirus.

We asked nonprofit leaders to tell us what immediate impact their organization has experienced or expects to experience during the next three months as a result of COVID-19. Every respondent said the virus has negatively impacted their organization. Of note…

  • 92% have had or expect to have a negative financial outlook or budget impact.
  • 83% have canceled or reduced programming/services for their constituents and communities or plan to do so.
  • 81% are changing working arrangements for staff/volunteers (e.g., team working remotely).
  • 72% have canceled or will cancel fundraising events.
  • 49% have seen or expect to see increased staff and volunteer absences.
  • 44% have seen or expect to experience an increased demand for services from clients.
  • 36% have had or expect a disruption in mission-critical third-party supplies/services.
  • 33% have made or expect to make staff reductions/cuts.

Every nonprofit has made changes to operations or service delivery.

We asked nonprofit leaders how, if at all, they have changed the way their nonprofit organization is operating or delivering services. They’ve adjusted their plans in three primary ways.

1. Staff are working and serving clients remotely.

“Our physical building is closed, so we have moved all our work to virtual, which is a massive shift.”

“All program services, including academic, case management, counseling and therapy, are being delivered remotely through online platforms.”

2. Organizations have reduced hours and/or services.

“We reduced the hours of the center we operate and postponed 12 community events as well as eight training workshops/programs.”

3. Nonprofits are offering more virtual programming.

“We’ve had to ramp up us the process of digitizing all our information. We are exploring the purchase of software as a service system to allow us to move in this direction.”

Postponed fundraisers and a changing fundraising environment have nonprofit leaders concerned about the future.

We asked nonprofit leaders about the immediate financial risks, if any, their organization is currently facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. There are five areas they are most concerned about, not just to survive, but to thrive after this crisis.

1. Organizational sustainability

Nonprofit leaders are concerned about having the funds to maintain operations and financially survive this crisis. Many say they don’t have adequate reserves for more than a few months, while others fear having to close their doors due to potential loss of revenue. Additionally, as funds decrease, demands for services have increased, putting nonprofit leaders in a very fragile and precarious situation.

“Loss of revenue from cancelled fundraisers and donor support would be devastating and would likely lead to the dissolution of our organization.”

“We have reserves for only a little over a month to carry us if our funders stop paying, but the demand for services will increase.”

2. Paying employees

Nonprofit leaders are overwhelmingly committed to and concerned about caring for and compensating their employees during this challenging time. Many anticipate layoffs and a disruption in payroll.

“Trying to pay our staff with no revenue is very difficult and can only be done for a short time.”

3. Inability to service clients/community

With staff reductions, the inability to gather in groups and canceled fundraisers, nonprofit leaders are concerned about their ability to maintain support for their constituents as needs continue to grow.

“Closure of facilities has prevented the delivery of certain services. There is concern that this problem will exacerbate as the crisis continues.”

4. Delivering services in new and creative ways

The coronavirus crisis has prompted nonprofits to immediately create new and innovative ways to deliver services and operate as staff teams. The majority are implementing virtual opportunities that require unplanned investments to meet increasing technological demands.

“We are finding and creating new methods to reach people in need. Deploying new [mobile resources and a delivery model] require the acquisition of additional resources. We need increased funding for this level of effort.”

“We have incurred additional technology expenses to retrofit employees to work from home.”

5. Fear that funders will divert resources to other causes

Nonprofit leaders, especially those whose organizations provide education, arts and other services not considered basic survival needs (e.g., food and housing) fear funders may redeploy resources they depend on to meet other immediate gaps. They hope funders will keep a wide-angle view of the entire sector to ensure all organizations can continue operating after this crisis is behind us.

“The immediate risk is that funders redirect funds away from our organization to basic needs like food, housing and medical supplies. Our operating budget is only partially funded for the year. We have written grants assuming the balance. If the funding rate is significantly below this target, we will be forced to cancel programming.”

Nonprofit leaders would use additional funding to pay staff, continue critical services and fund new technology to deliver virtual programming/operations.

When asked how they would use additional funding to support any area of their mission, nonprofit leaders are focused on caring for people.

“I’d use the additional funding to meet the needs of our payroll.”

Additional funding would be helpful to be able to continue services.”

“We could use additional funding to upgrade to better accommodate online programming and virtual learning.”

Nonprofit leaders need new information and training to support them through this uncertain time.

We asked nonprofit leaders what resources, if any, they and their organization need assistance with now. Three areas rose to the top.

  • 90% want to learn about alternate fundraising strategies to maintain revenue.
  • 55% want help with maintaining morale during uncertain times.
  • 46% are interested in better understanding how to fundraise on Facebook and other digital platforms.

Pivoting with You: NLC’s Response and Commitment to Local Nonprofits

While the findings from this survey shine a light on the urgent needs of our community and the fragility of our sector, nonprofit leaders remain hopeful and resilient. I continue to be struck by this remark from one of our survey respondents:

As we continue our work to develop and connect nonprofit leaders to strengthen organizations and our community, here’s how NLC is responding so we can all pivot together.

  • Creating new content and virtual learning opportunities to respond to real-time needs — We’re hosting weekly FREE webinars with leading experts, such as working remotely in uncertain times and helping nonprofits take steps to be sustainable amid crisis. We’re also posting expert tips and content on our NLC Blog daily.
  • Connecting and supporting nonprofit leaders — We’re working with nonprofit CEOs and other leaders to host virtual, small-group gatherings that bring leaders from across our sector together to discuss challenges, brainstorm solutions and share new ideas and answers. Caring for our caregivers has never been more important, and our nonprofit leaders need additional care as they serve on the frontlines.
  • Serving as a conduit and advocate with funders — On behalf of our entire nonprofit sector, NLC is working with funders to advocate for your needs. Not only are we gathering and sharing the eye-opening realities of what nonprofits are experiencing, we’re collaborating with them as they seek the best path forward to support organizations.
  • Maintaining a virtual COVID-19 resource center for nonprofits to keep the overwhelming amount of information in one place

As always, Team NLC is here for our nonprofit community. If there is anything we can do to support you and your nonprofit organization, including one-on-one support, coaching or counsel, please contact us at info@nlctb.org.


About this Survey

NLC fielded an online Google survey that was open to nonprofit executives in the Tampa Bay region during March 19-24, 2020. Ninety-eight nonprofit leaders responded, including 92 from the five counties NLC serves (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk). The majority focus on Hillsborough and Pinellas. Nearly 80% of respondents were nonprofit CEOs or executive directors, while the remaining 20% were senior-level leaders (e.g., vice presidents). The majority of respondents represent human service organizations, followed by education, health care and then arts/culture nonprofits.

WATCH: How to Manage Uncertainty Amid Crisis

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

As nonprofit professionals scramble to devise new operating plans to serve as many constituents as possible while protecting and caring for employees, the thought of sustainability seems almost quaint. From foundations to individuals and even fees for service, all revenue streams are under extreme pressure. While many nonprofit leaders are thinking about survivability, there are steps leaders can take now to increase the likelihood of sustainability amid these challenging times. In this video, author and nonprofit strategy expert Steve Zimmerman shares the critical actions nonprofit leaders can take NOW to successfully prepare for the future.

After watching this video, you and your nonprofit organization will be prepared to:

  • Understand your cash position
  • Assess damage to your revenue streams
  • Look at your dual bottom line
  • Include the right stakeholders in the discussion
  • Communicate consistently

Additional Resources

Download the presentation Steve shares in the webinar above here.

Check out Steve’s article on 5 Steps Nonprofits Must Take to Survive a Crisis.


To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

How to Host Successful Online Board Meetings

Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE Tips

Although the coronavirus pandemic currently prevents us from connecting in person, team collaboration has never been more important, especially for nonprofits. Bringing leaders together virtually is critical as nonprofits navigate important business decisions, a new fundraising environment and the safety of employees and constituents. Here are seven tips for hosting effective online board meetings for nonprofits as you continue to deliver your life-changing mission.

1. Pick the right platform.
There are a variety of free or low-cost online video conferencing platforms, including Zoom, GotoMeeting and others. These allow members to see each other from the comfort of their homes while providing audio-only options for those whose technology may be limited. In addition to seeing each other’s faces and body language to enhance team dynamics and effectiveness, you can record virtual meetings and share them with members who may be unable to attend. For staff or board leaders who are new to online meetings, conduct a test meeting to help them get more comfortable with the platform and technology. Note that free plans typically limit the number of users and meeting length.

2. Prepare for the meeting.
The meeting host should turn off all computer notifications and close all programs on their computer. This will improve bandwidth and ensure the smoothest transmission of audio and video for participants as you host your online board meeting.

Your CEO or executive director should assign an additional staff member to help board members log into the meeting, provide technical support during the call and monitor the chat box for questions.

3. Plan a 20/20 agenda.
We agree with Nonprofit Learning Labs that as you plan your agenda, you should put 20% fewer items on it, allowing 20% more time for the meeting and conversation. Online board meetings often require repetition, clarification and additional time for discussion. Your board chair should ask officers and members in advance to lead various agenda items. During the meeting, he or she can share their screen to present information.

4. Set ground rules.
It’s helpful to institute structure when you’re hosting online board meetings. Here are a few guidelines we recommend:

  • Request that all board members use and turn on their video camera (if they have one), so everyone can be seen and heard during the meeting.
  • Let participants know that the board chair will recognize them before speaking to avoid everyone talking at once.
  • Ask everyone to use their mute button when they’re not speaking to silence background noises from pets, kids and others working at home.
  • Set agreed-upon maximum speaking times for each topic and speaker to ensure you can efficiently and effectively get through your agenda. Assign a staff person to serve as the timekeeper.

5. Do more with less.
We recommend that you keep online board meetings to a maximum of 60 to 75 minutes. If board members are in multiple time zones, be sure to list the meeting time in all time zones so everyone knows the correct start time. (Most people only know their own time zone.)

6. Start and finish strong.
When hosting online board meetings, it’s important to start and close the meeting with relevant details. To open the call, ask everyone to use the chatbox to say hello. It’s a good way to get people focused and comfortable with technology. During the last five minutes, ask everyone for a closing thought, or consider the rose/thorn technique for what worked well and what still needs improvement.

7. Use tech tools to improve facilitation.
Consider using the chatbox, poll and quiz functions to enhance the efficiency of your meeting:

  • Use the chatbox to ask for a motion, second and other brief responses.
  • Use a poll for yes/no questions and asking for feedback on proposed actions, such as “What suggestions do you have to improve future online meetings?”
  • For a mission moment, create a quiz using three fast facts about your organization’s impact, such as the number of people served last year or the cost to help one family.

READ NEXT: 10 Tips for Working from Home Effectively

Online Meeting Dos & Don’ts

DO: Use PowerPoint to advance your meeting agenda and highlight key data points being discussed. Use transition slides to keep attendees on track, such as a consent agenda, action items, financial discussion, etc. to frame your meeting.

DO: Allow extra time for questions throughout the meeting. People may need more time to process the information being shared, and it will take longer to hear and respond to questions.

DON’T: Fill slides with text. Just show the key points on your visuals with as few words as possible. Use white backgrounds and easy-to-read black or dark fonts of 14-point or higher. Provide detailed financial statements, committee reports, meeting minutes and other information in advance.

DO: Add a phone number or email to the bottom of each slide for participants to contact regarding technical problems without interrupting the meeting.

DON’T: Use animation in slides. They can interfere with the audio based on each user’s Internet speed. Streaming videos can also be problematic and should be tested in advance.


Alyce Lee Stansbury | Nonprofit Leadership Center trainer

Alyce Lee Stansbury, CFRE, President of Stansbury Consulting, is a nonprofit expert, 25-year fundraising veteran and popular instructor at NLC. Contact her at alycelee@StansburyConsulting.com or 850-668-2569.

Want to be the first to hear about the latest nonprofit tips, resources and training classes at NLC? Sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter to help you thrive personally and professionally. 

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely During Uncertain Times

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

Are you feeling overwhelmed by navigating today’s turbulent waters while working remotely? In this webinar, NLC and positive psychology expert Ellen Schuster-Nastir explore strategies you can incorporate into your new daily “normal” to strengthen your resiliency, shift your perspective and work successfully in a new environment.

Specifically, you will learn:

  • Different strategies for working from home under challenging circumstances
  • How to lean into your growth mindset for better focus in times of uncertainty
  • Tools and actions rooted in positive psychology to support yourself, your team members and your loved ones (Positive psychology is an approach to psychological well-being and happiness, including the five elements of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievement.)

READ NEXT: Check out Ellen’s 10 tips to work effectively from home.

Resources Referenced During the Presentation

  • “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being” by Martin Seligman, psychologist and positive psychology expert
  • “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck, psychologist and mindset expert
  • Perspective Wheel: In the inner circle, write down a specific topic or issue you’re facing. In one section of the wheel, write down your immediate beliefs, thoughts and feelings regarding the topic. On the outside of the section, markdown one item you’re seeing in front of you, i.e., window, picture, etc. Assign the section a color. Next, change your body position to look at a different area in your room. Now, think of another way to view the topic. In a different section of the circle, write down the thoughts and feelings that surface when you try a different viewpoint. Assign to this section the item you’re seeing in front of you, along with a color, to differentiate the perspectives from one another. Continue around the circle for as many different ways of viewing the topic as come to mind. Each time, move your body and note the item and color you choose to represent it. When finished, review all the various perspectives and select the one that is most aligned with your positive energy and comfort level and the one you want to adopt. When you begin to slip, doubt or question, review the perspectives and see if you need to try on a different one. Sometimes reviewing the wheel reminds you of why you chose what you did in the first place and helps you stay on track. If not, feel free to shift to another.
  • Feelings Wheel: There are many feelings wheels available on the Internet. Use the search term “feelings wheel” in your favorite search engine to find a version of the wheel that resonates with you.
  • Brene Brown’s video on the “Today Show:” https://www.today.com/parents/bren-brown-s-advice-peace-home-during-covid-19-t177083
Quote from Laura Kelly Fanucci

Connect with Ellen

If you’d like to learn more from Ellen about working remotely, read her 10 tips or contact her at 813-968-8597 or ellen@innovativeteamsolutions.com. You can also find her at innovativeteamsolutions.com.


To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

How to Work from Home Effectively: 10 Tips for Working Remotely

Ellen Nastir Tips

Working remotely has been on the uptick in the United States, well before the coronavirus pandemic forced employees from every sector and city to turn their homes into temporary offices. According to the Federal Reserve, the share of the labor force that works from home tripled during the past 15 years. Despite this growing movement, many people still find themselves unsure of how to work from home effectively as COVID-19 forces them to work from their kitchen tables and guest bedrooms, all while kids, pets, other working family members and the chaos of life echoes in the background.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, these 10 working from home tips will make the transition more manageable if you’ve never worked remotely or have done so sparingly.

Nine tips for how to work from home effectively | Nonprofit Leadership Center

1. Create a workspace that best fits your needs. If possible, find a space in your home that’s devoted to your work where you don’t have to set up or put away everything each day. Craft an area in your home where you can create boundaries for starting and ending your day. This space might be a guest bedroom with a desk, a quiet corner in the house or even a room entirely dedicated to your office. Avoid places like the dining room table or kitchen counter that serve dual purposes and where family members tend to gather.

2. Establish a routine that resembles your office days.
Wake up at the same time and get dressed and ready each day. Carve out time for lunch in your schedule or take a break to meet with people virtually when you would have typically had scheduled meetings. When it comes to a “working from home dress code,” causal and comfortable is fine, just keep a consistent routine. That means getting out of your PJs! If you’re on Zoom, FaceTime, hangouts or other visual platforms where you’ll see colleagues and clients, dressing the part is nice, but give yourself and your team permission, where appropriate, to wear comfortable clothing, especially during this time.

3. Craft your working hours based on your personal productivity.
Are you at your best early in the morning, or are you better during the middle of the day or evenings? We each have different body rhythms that are now being interrupted by a new normal. Talk with your employer to discuss your needs during this time and how to work from home effectively. Is it possible for you to work at 5 a.m. because you have young children and can focus best when the house is quiet for 2.5 hours? Can you prepare that report at 10 p.m. when you have a second wind and still have it ready for the morning meeting? This new reality won’t last forever. It calls for flexing to the needs of your family and your responsibilities while considering yourself, too.

4. Give others at home a “no interruptions” signal.
Help others who are at home while you’re working, especially your kids, know when they can and cannot interrupt you. A great way to do this is to choose something you can wear that is visible from a distance that alerts them when you shouldn’t be disturbed (like when you’re on a conference call, video chat or working on a critical deadline). A red hat, a funky necklace, a scarf around your neck — get creative! Be sure to wear the item you choose, even when you reheat your coffee or take a bathroom break. Once you’re up and out of your office area, it’s natural for others to start asking you questions or trying to engage you. This can take you off track if you’re constructing an email in your head or thinking about the next 10 things you need to do.

If you have young kids at home, have them make you a colorful paper chain from construction paper. Wear it when you’re working, and take it off when things are more relaxed. Consider removing a ring every hour as a visual cue for how much longer until you have time for a break with them. 

5. Hold a daily team meeting.
If you’re managing remote teams or employees, hold an open conversation with your teammates each morning to hear the top three needs each individual has. A 30-minute call at the beginning of each day can help with communication and camaraderie. Be flexible, given that various team members may be caring for children or an elderly family member. Listen to each other with care and concern, as your most prized possession is your willingness to be flexible with yourself and others.

6. Schedule your breaks.
Even when there’s no one depending on you in your house, set your phone timer for every 60 to 75 minutes to get up, stretch, move, breathe and just break away. When you return to your desk after a few minutes, take an additional two minutes to close your eyes, relax your body, take deep breaths and simply concentrate on feeling your breath move in and out of your body. Thoughts come and go — let them, and go back to feeling and hearing your breath. With your eyes open, you’ll feel refreshed, calm and more focused.

7. Talk and walk.
To integrate extra movement into your day, consider walking while talking with coworkers or participating on conference calls. Don’t feel chained to your desk. Move! Are you having calls with team members that you can take outside? Grab a pad and pen and sit on your patio or somewhere in nature. Get some Vitamin D!

8. Remove social media and news notifications from your toolbar.
While staying up-to-date with the world around us is critical, consider only looking at your social media or news outlets once in the morning, at lunch and after you finish for the day. Doing so more than that, unless it is a part of your job responsibilities, can be a time suck. Music can provide white noise and make you feel as though you’re not isolated in a quiet home.

9. Go easy on yourself as you adapt to a new routine.
Nothing is written in stone, and what works for one person may not work for you. Test tactics, see what works or doesn’t work, tweak your arrangement, adapt and repeat until you figure out how to work from home effectively.

10. Remember, others are listening.
Finally, in this unchartered time we find ourselves in where children and other family members are at home while we’re working, be aware of your choice of words, intonation and facial and body expressions. If you have children in the house, remember that they are always listening, even when we think they’re out of earshot or absorbed in an activity. They’re looking to you for safety, comfort and reassurance during uncertain times. Be courageous and carefully find moments when you can talk with yourself, other adults and coworkers about the current situation. We all need each other more than ever.


Ellen Nastir, NLC trainer and positive psychology expert

NLC trainer Ellen Nastir, M.Ed., PCC, BCC, CPCC, is a Certified Professional Co-active Coach with advanced training in organization and relationship systems coaching, tension and change management, appreciation at work, and most currently obtaining certification in positive psychology for the workplace. She received her coach training and certification from The Coaches Training Institute, the first to be recognized by The International Coach Federation.


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Coping with the Coronavirus: The Latest from CEO Emily Benham

Emily H. Benham, FAHP, CFRE | CEO, NLC News

It is hard to believe how much our world and daily routines have changed in such a short period of time. Since my most recent communication about the Nonprofit Leadership Center’s response to COVID-19, we’ve made several decisions and are taking timely actions to support our nonprofit community now.

Status of NLC Events

Like all organizations and businesses, NLC is closely adhering to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local public health authorities. As a result, we’re postponing all our April classroom training events and will reschedule them as soon as the CDC and government officials declare that it’s safe to gather in groups again. If you’re currently registered for an April event at our training center or at one of our Pinellas County partner locations, we will contact you via email regarding next steps. If you cannot make the rescheduled date once it’s established, we’ll ensure you don’t forfeit your class fees or the opportunity to participate in a future training.

For organizations that have scheduled custom training or individuals who are participating in our peer-based leadership cohorts, we are working to determine the appropriate plans for either rescheduling events or delivering experiences virtually. We will email you directly to communicate about and collaborate on next steps.

As of March 20, 2020, we still plan to gather with nonprofit and business leaders on June 11 for our 10th anniversary Leadership Conference at the Tampa Marriott Water Street. Of course, as we learn more from the CDC and government officials in the coming weeks, we will keep you informed of any changes to the current plan.

Finally, to actively contribute to mitigating the spread of the Coronavirus, Team NLC is working from home until further notice. We remain available and ready to assist you via email, phone and Zoom.

New Support for Nonprofits

As we all find ourselves working in a new environment that’s anything but normal, NLC is partnering with our trainers and subject matter experts to bring you a series of FREE virtual webinars and discussion opportunities throughout the next month. This includes everything from managing remote teams effectively and leading through a crisis to fundraising in uncertain times and pandemic preparedness/response. Please be sure to check your weekly NLC e-newsletter and our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages for dates and registration information. Please also check out our NLC Blog where we’re posting several articles each week from experts on a variety of current topics to help us all through this time.

Additionally, we’re developing a COVID-19 digital hub for nonprofit leaders that’s a one-stop-shop for all the information and resources available to nonprofits. With the deluge of emails from a variety of sources and so much good content to support our sector, we want to help you curate and access it easily. We’ll share this with you next week. Please don’t hesitate to let us know about helpful resources at info@nlctb.org.

Connecting Funders and Nonprofit Leaders

Last but not least, we’ve been in close communication with area funders who want to assist local nonprofits during this challenging time. Yesterday, we issued a survey to nonprofit CEOs and executive directors to explore the realities they’re facing and current needs to inform immediate actions funders might take to support our sector. We’ll also use these insights to create real-time resources from NLC. If you’re a nonprofit CEO or executive director, please take the survey by Tuesday, March 24. We will share the results with you in the coming days as we collect and analyze the responses.

As always, I’m profoundly grateful to serve our nonprofit community and for the leadership and courage you and your organizations continue to show in this time of crisis. Please don’t hesitate to contact our team if there is anything we can do to support you. We are better together.