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Operating in the post-pandemic world: Resources for NFPs

As not-for-profits (NFPs) begin to resume operations, they will face unique challenges in the post-pandemic world. Learn more about some of the various challenges NFPs may face and the resources available to help them.

As society adjusts to a new normal, NFPs are starting to open up their doors again. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged NFPs to deal with unique issues, but has also provided opportunities to find new and better ways for NFPs to serve their communities, enable organizational resilience and ultimately build back better.

Planning and risk

Scenario planning

Learn how to make organizational decisions in uncertain, unpredictable and volatile environments using scenario planning. This three-part series is your essential guide to the six-step scenario planning approach (May 2018).

Risk oversight

NFPs face unique challenges in overseeing enterprise risk in a regulatory environment of varied, and at times, disparate funder and stakeholder demands. Directors need to understand risk within context and be engaged in the oversight of risk management processes while exhibiting confidence that management has a system to bring the organization's most material risks to the board's attention. This free webinar (March 2019) is based on our publication A Framework for Board Oversight of Enterprise Risk (May 2020). It is designed to help directors to better understand and oversee risk, including embedded vulnerabilities and compounding effects from multiple risks.

Business continuity and disaster recovery

One of the key ways to successfully navigate a disaster is through the organization's own business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Communication, Protection, Readiness (January 2006) is a tool that can be used to assess an organization's disaster preparedness.

Cybersecurity and technology

Cybersecurity oversight

Cybersecurity is one of the top risks on the minds of NFP directors. Given the significant reputational, operational, financial, legal, and regulatory implications of data breaches, directors of not-for-profits have to be adept at overseeing their organizations' exposure to cybersecurity risk and the related policies, processes, and controls in place to address these risks. We have created a webinar (January 2020), 20 Questions document (October 2020), and an On the Radar bulletin (August 2019) to help not-for-profit directors learn what they should consider in overseeing cybersecurity risk.

Technology risk

Technology is constantly changing and the move to remote work with COVID-19 has meant the adoption of new technologies for many not-for-profits. Our Technology Spotlight (November 2019) series will help keep you informed about the benefits, risks and possible risk-mitigation strategies for a range of technologies, from cloud computing to bring-your-own device policies to big data tools.

Managing cybersecurity risk: How to get started

Get an overview of the top cybersecurity risks Canadian organizations are facing today and practical steps you can take to protect your organization from a cybersecurity breach. This webinar (November 2019) will provide a simple, plain language approach on how to start the journey towards improving your cybersecurity risk management program.

Cash flow management

Managing cash flow

The ability to manage cash flow is critical to any organization, and particularly important when financial crisis hits. CPA Canada offers an online course to teach not-for-profit leaders about the budgeting process, including best practices on managing cash flow.

Restricted funds

In Ontario, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario (PGT) is temporarily allowing charities to access restricted funds (March 2020) to use for operating costs, contractual obligations, and in some cases, delivery of services. Learn about this temporary measure and its requirements.


Fundraising is a major source of funding for many not-for-profits, but often hard hit in a financial or other crisis. This article provides tips on how to continue fundraising efforts (March 2020).

Dissolution, mergers and collaborations

Some not-for-profits will make the decision to dissolve as a result of the fallout from COVID-19. Find out about the steps that leaders should take (January 2017) to ensure that the organization is properly dissolved. Not-for-profits may also wish to explore mergers or collaborations (November 2017) with other organizations, for either financial or strategic reasons.

Financial and annual reporting

ASNPO alert: Subsequent events and other considerations related to COVID-19

Learn about whether NFPs applying Accounting Standards for Not-for-Profit Organizations (ASNPO) in Part III of the CPA Canada Handbook — Accounting should adjust annual financial statements (April 2020) issued in 2020 for the effects of COVID-19.

What not-for-profits need to know about annual reporting

Stakeholders expect NFPs to demonstrate accountability and transparency. The annual report is one way for NFPs to communicate with stakeholders, particularly in the post-pandemic world, where uncertainty is looming. Learn how not-for-profits can prepare high-quality annual reports that enhance transparency and accountability, as well as build trust and community support, in our Annual Reporting Guide for NFPs (February 2020).

Accounting Standards Board COVID-19 news and resources

The Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) is committed to helping stakeholders address financial reporting challenges during this unprecedented time. Visit the AcSB news and resources webpage for a listing of key COVID-related accounting questions and references.

ASNPO alert: Assessing potential COVID-19 impacts on financial statements—Questions and considerations under ASNPO

Learn about COVID-19-related questions and considerations (September 2020) for financial statement preparers and practitioners under Accounting Standards for Not-for-Profit Organizations (ASNPO).

Domestic Accounting Standards Update (November 2020)

In this webinar (November 2020), hear about COVID-19-related financial reporting considerations under Accounting Standards for Private Enterprises and Accounting Standards for Not-for-Profit Organizations and get an update on upcoming standard-setting proposals from the Accounting Standards Board.

Operating considerations

Economic and tax measures

Amidst the pandemic a number of economic and tax measures (April 2020) were put into place to help not-for-profits navigate the crisis. From an extension in the filing deadline for the T3010, to access to credit, NFPs should be aware of these measures and how they impact their organization.

Force majeure and enforceability of contracts

Generally, contracts are enforceable unless they contain a specific force majeure provision that applies in the particular circumstance, or the contract and be considered impossible or frustrated at common law. View more information (April 2020) on how this applies, and what to consider in terms of whether a contract is enforceable in the context of COVID-19.

Business interruption insurance coverage

Organizations may wonder whether their business interruption insurance policy covers forced closures resulting from COVID-19. While the wording of insurance policies differs, most such policies include an exclusion for pandemics and/or a physical damage trigger, which precludes coverage for COVID-19 closures. Nonetheless, in early April, a national class action lawsuit (April 2020) was filed against a number of Canada's large insurance companies for their refusal to pay coronavirus-related business insurance claims.

In a non-COVID-19 context, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently released a decision (April 2020) interpreting the term "physical damage" to include the loss of property, even in the absence of actual physical damage, for the purpose of interpreting business interruption insurance coverage. There is nothing in the decision that means that clear exclusions for pandemics or the actual terms of insurance policies limiting the basis for coverage due to business interruption are altered by COVID-19, but the case is a signal that courts may choose to interpret insurance policy language broadly to include business interruption resulting from the pandemic.

Environmental obligations

Despite a change in operations due to COVID-19, environmental obligations (March 2020)—whether originating from governmental statues and regulations or internal standards or agreements—are ongoing. Organizations should be reviewing their obligations and documenting compliance, as well as familiarizing themselves with consequences of non-compliance.

Privacy considerations

Organizations may be collecting additional information about individuals' health, exposure/interaction with other individuals, or travel history as a result of COVID-19. All of this is personal information, subject to the organization's governing privacy legislation (March 2020).

Employment standards changes and managing work refusals

Because employment standards are based on jurisdiction, amendments made to the legislation (April 2020) to accommodate COVID-19 related issues varies across the country.

Beyond these amendments, as employers, NFPs may be facing work refusals (March 2020) by employees as a result of COVID-19. Generally, health and safety legislation allows employees to refuse work in dangerous situations, although the specific occupational health and safety legislation in each jurisdiction determines the applicable rules. Collective agreements may also have work refusal provisions. A work refusal may involve an employee refusing to do anything from a single task to a complete refusal to work altogether. The threshold is different in different Canadian jurisdictions but must be a legitimate health and safety concern rather than a preference, taste, or personal comfort; and it is fact-dependent as to whether it is reasonable in the circumstance.

Annual general meetings

Not-for-profit organizations often hold their annual general meetings (2020) in the spring. The pandemic forced organizations to postpone meetings as well as hold hybrid or virtual meetings. Going forward, some of these remain options, with the potential of attracting greater attendance by members.

NOTE: Resources created by external organizations were not reviewed, developed or approved by CPA Canada. CPA Canada accepts no responsibility or liability that might occur directly or indirectly as a consequence of the use, application or reliance on these external resources.