Update 3/7/2013: As communities prepare for the effects of sequestration, it's important that, in addition to readying themselves as we suggest below, nonprofits share their stories about what sequestration will mean for their ability to continue to deliver services to those communities.  The National Council of Nonprofits has created a site that includes resources for nonprofits and an opportunity to tell us all what sequestration will mean for your organization and the people you serve.  We urge you to do so: GiveVoice.org

For nonprofit financial service providers like us, the web is a grim place today as the sector grapples with what the looming sequester will mean for the thousands of organizations providing lifeline services across communities.  An article in the Huffington Post
lays out the stakes for needy families, and a piece in the Nonprofit Times digs into some of the specific and immediate cuts, declaring that the sequester is here.  The news for nonprofits is uniformly frightening. Tim Delaney, CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits puts it starkly: “The time for playing politics is over. Real people in every community from coast-to-coast and border-to-border are being hurt.”

But, if you are responsible for the financial management of a nonprofit organization, what should you do on Monday morning?  What are some concrete steps you can take to make sure you are as prepared as possible for these cuts as they cascade across the economy?

  • Assess how your organization’s revenue streams may be affected following cuts due to sequestration. You can learn a bit more about how cuts will be allocated in your state by digging into the documents here.  
  • Determine which services are core and most critical to the communities your organization serves.
  • Assume some expense reductions will be necessary and identify where costs may be cut.  
  • Determine whether temporary staff reductions or furloughs are necessary.  
  • Identify where payments to vendors may be delayed in the near term.  Reach out to these vendors to negotiate terms.  
  • Explore collaboration with peers or complementary service providers.
  • Communicate with stakeholders.  
  • Tell your organization's story at GiveVoice.org

None of these conversations are fun.  We know that.  And we always want to avoid having to have them under immediate threats. But in the long run, these are conversations that any organization should have anyway so that they are maximally prepared to cope with unpredictable events of a less congressional nature