An Open Letter to Public Officials in Washington State Regarding Coronavirus Response

March 16, 2020

Dear Public Officials,

Thank you for your work to ensure the safety and health of Washington’s residents during the coronavirus pandemic. We are grateful for your leadership and proud to work side by side with you to serve our communities during this difficult time.

I am writing to be sure that you are aware of what we are hearing from nonprofits at this time:

  • Nonprofits, particularly service providers, are being called in to adapt quickly to new operating requirements, educate community members, and support vulnerable community members without any new resources.
  • Many nonprofit service providers, such as food banks and behavioral health providers, may face increased demand for services in the coming weeks and months.
  • Nonprofits tend to be under-resourced and under-staffed in the best of times. A drop-off in staff and volunteers due to illness, vulnerability to illness, kids not in school, etc., will pose threats to program continuity.
  • Many nonprofits are already suffering significant financial losses due to cancelled fundraising events, cancelled performances, cancelled conferences and other programs. Like small businesses, nonprofits will need help to recover economically.

In some cases, several factors may combine to create difficult challenges. For example, food banks will be more needed than ever, yet they tend to rely heavily on volunteers, many of whom are senior citizens and may be unable to volunteer at this time for safety reasons. We will be working tirelessly to overcome these challenges and continue to serve.

There are some things you can do to help us succeed.

  • Include nonprofits in any relief and recovery funding that is available in our state. To date, announcements at the state and local level have focused on small businesses and employees but have not mentioned support for nonprofits. Please read more about Why Nonprofits Must Be Included in a COVID-19 Relief and Economic Stimulus Package.
  • Be flexible regarding how government funding is used by nonprofits. Many of us are having to adapt how we deliver services during this time period or will have interruptions in service in some cases. We depend on this revenue to pay our staff and keep our organizations running. For more on this topic, please see our Open Letter to Funders Regarding Coronavirus Response.
  • Talk with us. We urge you to consult with nonprofit leaders statewide as the state of Washington continues to proactively respond to this crisis. Invite nonprofit representatives to sit at key decision-making and advisory tables. Nonprofit leaders are pretty busy, but they also have great insights from their work on the frontlines.

Please let Washington Nonprofits know how we can help in providing useful information or connecting you with leaders who can advise your efforts.


Laura Pierce




Laura Pierce

Washington Nonprofits is the state association for all nonprofits. We make sure nonprofits have what they need to succeed through learning, advocacy, and collaboration. More information on our response to the coronavirus pandemic is available here.


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