Organisational planning template for the Covid-19 crisis

Worked example based on Refugee Action’s Covid-19 plans

Refugee Action

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A short planning document to capture your organisational priorities in response to the Covid-19 crisis is useful to NGO leaders and teams. 

This plan should include your objectives, priority actions for those you serve, your staff and the organisation for the next week, the coming weeks and the long term. The plan can be used to frame discussions and agree collective priorities together. The document is also useful for boards and senior managers. 

The below example of a crisis plan was developed by Stephen Hale, CEO of Refugee Action.

Are you a CEO looking for advice on how to steer your organisation through the Covid-19 crisis? Join Stephen and Penny Lawrence, chair of Refugee Action, in our webinar for CEOs on 22 April.

Penny is also an executive coach for NGO leaders and Oxfam GB’s former crisis director. Check out her practical tips for leading through a crisis. 

Example plan 

Our overall objective is to ensure we respond effectively to the current crisis in every aspect of our work, ensure the wellbeing of staff, and ensure we manage the financial implications of this crisis effectively.

Our approach

We will:

  • Act in line with our values 
  • Be agile, making decisions quickly based on best (good enough) intelligence and knowledge
  • Look at dilemmas and decision from the perspectives of our clients, staff and organisation.
  • Be flexible, re-organising our work and moving staff into different roles when needed
  • Be pro-active in our support of our staff, particularly those who may become ill or self-isolated so that we reduce anxiety to the best of our ability
  • Advocate to government for decisions and clarity on critical issues affecting our clients, working closely with other key allies
  • Play a leadership role in building the capacity of local organisations to respond
  • Make decisions based on the advice of government, PHE as well as sector bodies like NCVO

Our priorities 

This week


Our clients Our staff Our organisation

Immediate service continuity as we shift to remote support

Are there new ways we can help our clients?

Staff well-being – all line managers to check on health and working from home (Wfh) issues for their teams 

Seek input on adapting what we do and how we do it from staff.

Check we have access to cash we need
Guidance sent to all staff re priorities for client liaison including our approach to key risks of clients short of food  Communication – allocate lead internal comms manager and protocols - prioritise LT updates to all staff, including guidance on implications of school closure and use of paid special leave
Set up team WhatsApp groups to remain connected 
Communication sent out to all supporters
Government advocacy on resolving xx   Develop good understanding of staff feelings and concerns
Provide immediate support and advice where we can
Ensure consistent approach across teams to paid leave and other issues
Ask chair to set up board subcommittee for agile decision making e.g. use of reserves 
Provide immediate practical support and advice on key issues  Full transition to home working following government announcement Initial assessment of key issues facing sector
  IT solutions developed – so groups can connect virtually  

Coming weeks


Our clients Our staff Our organisation
Ensure we sustain and adapt our current services as effectively as possible Ensure staff understand and are making the most of available technology – check on overload and stress of WFH Our role in helping the sector respond – how can we collaborate?
Monitor impact of crisis on our clients and realise opportunities for change reflecting our strategic intent  Listen to staff feelings and concerns, and provide support and advice through developing a collective Q&A inviting all staff to share their questions and provide organisational answers and responses – admit where we don’t know  Take decisions needed to manage the financial implications of this crisis effectively.
Establish web page with info and guidance Agree our approach to (many) issues arising from home working, financial uncertainty etc. Fundraising team developing Coronavirus appeal 
  Map who is time poor and time rich as a result of shifting priorities and rejig work /support  

Long term


Our clients Our staff Our organisation
See strategy - better outcomes and service continuity for our clients Retain staff motivation and connection despite remote working and staff furloughing Maintain importance of our clients’ issues in policy making
Opportunity to realise campaign ambitions in service of the crisis  Develop talent through secondments into new leadership roles needed Seek to collaborate with the sector. Offer to lead sector on xxxx, support on yyyy.


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