In my previous letter, I shared the actions we have taken to safeguard our global community and help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, I want to provide an update about our thoughts for the future, some difficult decisions we have had to make recently and how we are continuing to navigate this evolving situation.This has been a trying week for all of us at All Hands and Hearts as we continue to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Our team is working diligently to finesse our current operating model and available resources as we continue to look for indicators to better understand the timeline for when we can restart our work.
Across the world people, communities and organizations are adapting to the volatile situation of COVID-19. At this time, there is a lack of specific information needed for All Hands and Hearts to determine when we can return to assisting communities impacted by natural disasters, in both a safe and responsible manner. Given this, we have determined that it is unlikely we will be able to restart our volunteer-driven operations before September 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis has and will continue to have a significant, negative financial impact on our organization. We are currently forecasting a severe reduction in donations, which has required us to cut down on our operating expenses. After analyzing our organizational expenses, we made reductions in our software systems, license expenses, external vendors and other costs.
Unfortunately, these reductions are not enough to ensure the long-term financial viability of All Hands and Hearts. Due to this, we were forced to reduce staff expenses, and had to make the tremendously difficult decision to lay off 94 members of our team around the world. These unprecedented times have impacted our organization more than we ever anticipated, and laying off members of our extraordinary team, who have all dedicated their lives to helping others, has been truly heartbreaking.
I want to take a moment to recognize and extend my deepest gratitude to our staff. This team has shown me how being there for each other is the way to build resilience in the face of crisis, and what we are living through today is no different. Examples of how our team shows up for one another are too many to count. But one such recent accomplishment, of people simply helping people, was through our Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico, a program we completed at the time of our operational suspension. Today more than ever, I am humbled and inspired by the individuals who have advanced the mission of our organization.
Before suspending our operations on March 12th, in response to the threat of COVID-19, we were working alongside communities and partners in Mozambique, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, The Bahamas, and various locations in the United States (Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Texas), and we were preparing to open five new programs, including locations in Australia, Florida and Mexico.
While this pandemic has created an unpredictable situation, I want to make clear that whenever we are able to continue working as normal, once it is safe and appropriate to do so, All Hands and Hearts will fulfill its existing commitments to each of the communities in which we were working and preparing to work.
We also recognize All Hands and Hearts has a role to play in helping the global community during the COVID-19 crisis. Here are actions we are taking:
- Continuing to urge our community to follow the advice of public health experts and, at this moment, to stay at home to help slow the spread of the virus;
- Engaging our community to provide support through virtual volunteer initiatives that are underway around the world;
- Leveraging our supply chain and logistics experience to source urgently needed personal protective equipment and enable distribution to healthcare facilities;
- Analyzing how we can stretch our volunteer-model to potentially provide “boots on the ground” support to communities suffering from the impacts of COVID-19 — when it is safe and appropriate to engage.
We believe the difficult decisions we have been forced to make now will ensure All Hands and Hearts survives this global crisis. As this crisis unfolds, we will do what we can to support those in need, and once we are able to operate as normal we will leverage our unique volunteer-driven model to get back to helping communities impacted by natural disasters.
As we continue to navigate the evolving global situation surrounding COVID-19, I look forward to maintaining transparency and sharing updates along the way about our return to operations.
Please stay safe,