Nonprofits Can Learn from Old Navy's Covid Response

What Nonprofits Can Learn From Old Navy’s Covid Response

In Strategic Planning by lisavgray

Today I participated in a Recode Commerce live conversation with Nancy Green, President of Old Navy. She talked about how her organization has adapted quickly to the realities of the pandemic. It occurred to me that Old Navy’s international retail experiences can apply to the most local nonprofit’s COVID response too. Check-out these top five takeaways:


In mid-May, Old Navy announced it was donating $30 million in clothes for needy families. They partnered with Good360 and Baby2Baby on clothing distribution and worked with Richmond, VA artist Noah Scalin to create this large-scale artwork (click below for video) to bring a single visual to the act of donation. Are there for-profit organizations that share a mission with yours? How can you work together to address a community need in a meaningful and memorable way?


Old Navy predicts that the public’s now-heightened awareness of health and wellness will be a long-lasting reality for commerce. Organizations that meet their customers and clients in face-to-face settings will have to very visibly assure their spaces are clean. For Old Navy, that means masks and hand sanitizers for everybody; vigilant cleaning of shared spaces; no sick employees in the workplace. Old Navy executives now expect to see these changes reflected in their financials for years to come. Are these expenses built into your 2021-22 budget?


At Old Navy, the customers who spend the most money are those who take advantage of all of Old Navy’s platforms. The digital commerce world calls these Omni-Channel Customers, and nonprofits have them too. They are the wonderful folks who explore your online calendar offerings; volunteer in-person; share your social-media posts; and round-up at the grocery story to benefit your nonprofit. Big brands like Old Navy spend big bucks to help customers pick up where they left off – regardless of the most recent medium employed – because of the added convenience and recognition this offers customers. Can your nonprofit do that too by personalizing emails; encouraging customers to create profiles and accounts on your website; connecting the in-person experience with these online interactions? Your supporters know your nonprofit – how can you show your supporters you know them too?


Old Navy may have fewer COVID-response issues than many brick-and-mortar retailers because their locations are “off mall,” usually in a shopping center with ample parking and easy access for their typical customer: a mom and her kids. One of their first COVID pivots, in place by the end of April 2020, was to offer curbside pickup. Are there goods or services your nonprofit can deliver “to the curb” – keeping everyone safe while still addressing your clients’ needs?


Old Navy expects the holiday season to begin very early this year, as shoppers purchase gifts and arrange for delivery. Is your nonprofit preparing now to be there for your clients and donors when they’re thinking about holiday giving – (both gift-buying AND end-of-year donations)? Retailers are gearing up now, and your nonprofit should too.

Your nonprofit can be as nimble and quick as an international retailer, as long as the changes you implement are laser-focused on meeting the needs of your community. Looking for help in deciding which changes will have the most sustainable impact? I would love to chat with you about it!