Not-for-Profit Virtual Seminar: Pandemic Lessons Learned from Not-for-Profit Leaders

calendar iconFebruary 25, 2021

Each year, our Not-for-Profit Seminar hosts a number of relevant topics, provides timely insights and poses questions and considerations to takeaway for your own organization. Below, we review the session Lessons Learned from the Pandemic: A Panel Discussion with Not-for-Profit Leaders, and recap important themes covered in the meeting.

The global pandemic has forced not-for-profit organizations to quickly adapt their operations. In the webinar Lessons Learned from the Pandemic: A Panel Discussion with Not-for-Profit Leaders, executives from three organizations join Cherry Bekaert to discuss the lessons they’ve learned in confronting the many challenges created by COVID-19.

Pandemic Impacts Run Deep

From the first live poll question of the session it was clear—and no surprise—that participants’ organizations have been impacted by the pandemic: 98% said that their people and culture have been impacted by COVID-19.

A Dedication to Staff Appreciation in Challenging Times

Panelists spoke about how they are prioritizing the care and safety of their people. All three mentioned ways they are supporting and engaging with their employees to support their well-being during the pandemic, including: extra days off, flexible Fridays, gratitude challenges, built-in lunch breaks from 11am to 1pm and daily communications.

“People and culture are what we are,”
– Phyllis Palmiero | Collegiate School.

Technology Changes

Three-quarters of the audience indicated via live polling during the session that their technology has been sufficient during the pandemic, but that there were some challenges. Panelists cited that they were able to work well virtually, but needed more digital capabilities around electronic signatures, invoicing and payments.

Kristen McCollum of the United Way of Greater Atlanta described how the organization got rid of their desk phones, replacing them with Zoom phone technology. The move saved money and made the organization more agile.

Positive Outlook Moving Forward

When polled, participants indicated that they are generally positive about 2021, with 69% saying they are very positive or somewhat positive about the year ahead. Panelists also shared some silver linings to come out of hardships of 2020.

Previously, the Foundation For The Carolinas had no work-from-home policy, said Alyssa Federico. But it’s likely they will have one moving forward now that they know they can effectively work remotely. That means more flexibility for their employees moving forward.

View the full session.

Contact Matthew Socha for Not-for-Profit strategic guidance.


  • Moderator: Matthew Socha, Partner | Chery Bekaert LLP
  • Panelist: Alyssa Federico, Senior Vice President of Finance | Foundation For The Carolinas
  • Panelist: Kristen McCollum, Chief Financial Officer | United Way of Greater Atlanta
  • Panelist: Phyllis Palmiero, Vice President for Finance & Administration | Collegiate School