'We came up with a 5-part educational recovery package for nonprofits. Here's how we did it' - Generocity Philly


May 15, 2020 12:20 pm

‘We came up with a 5-part educational recovery package for nonprofits. Here’s how we did it’

Identifying the topics that we thought were essential to help nonprofits navigate the pandemic was not hard. Deciding what to keep out was, says guest columnist Laura Otten.

Moving from a face-to-face workforce to a virtual one was a shock to many organizations. What will the post-COVID-19 workplace be?


This guest column was written by Laura Otten, the director of The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University.
The nonprofit sector has never been known to sit-out, wait-out or just observe when disaster strikes.

We’ve always been stalwart, steady and fearless in facing down problems – even those of epic proportion. But we’re also realistic as we move beyond the short-term impact of work disruption and canceled activities to focus on who we are and what we do best.

With almost 40 years of experience working with nonprofits to build their capacity, we — The Nonprofit Center at La Salle University — knew that during the COVID-19 pandemic, a) nonprofits would welcome some help and direction in their pivoting and b) given the intensity of the times in which we all found ourselves, whatever help we designed had to be easy to consume and financially accessible to everyone in these uncertain financial times.

With the  start of the lockdown, we immediately opened our video library, free of charge, knowing there were many useful webinars there. We quickly created some timely new videos and tip sheets, and we did what everyone else has done, which was to create a COVID-19 resource page on our website.

But in light of the uniqueness of our current situation, we wanted to provide some very targeted resources — resources that could help nonprofits with some of the particular challenges that have been created by COVID-19. And we wanted to provide those resources as quickly as possible so people could start their thinking, start the conversations and planning that needs to happen now, while still in the intensity of the crisis, in order to be prepared for what will need to be done when we move to the next stage of the crisis.

We immediately began thinking of it as an educational “recovery package.” Identifying the topics that we thought were essential to help nonprofits navigate the pandemic was not hard. Deciding what to keep out, however, was.

We wanted the series to be “short and sweet,” to ensure that folks could invest a little bit of time and still get some helpful information. Looking at the prior major crises of this century— 9-11 and the Great Recession — we know nonprofits’ immediate thoughts went to money:  will we have enough, how will we get more. Right there were two topics:  financial management and fundraising in this pandemic.

But raising money is about more than looking for money; it is also about telling your story and, in particular, telling that story to a traumatized world in a way that allows it to stand out from the stories of every other nonprofit trying to do the same thing.

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And then there are the two features that differentiate this crisis from others.

Moving from a face-to-face workforce to a virtual one was a shock to many organizations’ and individuals’ systems; it was done overnight and without the ability to plan. We can, and must, plan for whatever the next iteration of the workplace will be — back to face-to-face workplace or, far more likely, a hybrid virtual and face-to-face workplace, or even remaining all virtual.  Thus, we needed some advice on the workforce.

And, lastly, the prediction around the Great Recession that didn’t come true is one that very well will come true with this crisis: not all nonprofits will survive. We wanted to lay out options along the collaboration continuum — from shared services to collaborations and partnerships to mergers and even dissolutions — for folks to consider.

We’ve all been changed — and are continuing to change — by a global event that also has had profound local impact. The goal of our “recovery package” is not to give answers, but to provide some trigger points and shape the questions that can start organizational thinking and planning now, in order to prepare the organization for the next phase of the journey through the pandemic.

We have no doubt that our sector will emerge and continue to fulfill our missions, though our sector will also, in all likelihood, look different and act differently. Our five-video “recovery package” is designed to provide some guidance along that journey.

Moving Forward: The Post Covid-19 Resiliency Series is The Nonprofit Center’s contribution to support the nonprofit sector in restoring and innovating so it can continue doing what it does so well. Consisting of five easy-to-consume videos, ranging in length from 15 to 30 minutes, the series touches on key areas of concern as we move through and beyond this pandemic.  The five are:

  1. Surviving Covid-19: A Financial Prospective — This video covers both sides of the financial equation: ideas for cost cutting and revenue generation. You’ll also get actionable advice on internal controls you can implement even with a remote workplace and that will serve you well when no longer working remotely.
  2. Preparing Employees for a Productive Return — Concentrating on four key areas within human resources — communication, performance management, shifting job responsibilities, and talent gaps — this video provides guidance on how each area can successfully be addressed during a crisis to bolster the organization post-crisis.
  3. After the Storm, Fundraising after COVID-19 — In the post 2008 era, 37% of people stopped giving because organizations stopped asking. Now and in the post COVID-19 world, you don’t want that to be the reason people aren’t giving to you. This video guides you through creating a growth mindset, despite the chaotic and unpredictable times in which we live. It explains the new hybrid fundraising model that you should be executing now and into the future, and walks you through what your donor meetings should look like in the world of COVID-19.
  4. Considering New Pathways Through Partnership — Recovering from a crisis requires an objective assessment of your organization’s capacity and priorities that can lead to new approaches and greater stability. This video delves into what to consider in partnering and reviews various aspects, from space sharing to governance and data, any of which could make partnering with one or multiple organizations an effective and sustainable approach in recovery. The review will help you determine which, if any, are the right option to meet your organizational and client needs.
  5. Communicating During Your Comeback — This video offers strategies and communication tools for nonprofits as they manage and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.  Key topics will include how to discuss controversial management decisions, communicating from the inside-out, and using a variety of tactics to reach various stakeholders.  Now is the best time to begin to plan for what comes next, even if you’re not sure yourself.

In its efforts to help, The Nonprofit Center is offering the full series at the exceptionally low rate of $20 for Nonprofit Center members and $25 for nonmembers. Organizations are encouraged to share the videos with the appropriate staff and board members, and to use them as launch for discussions and planning.

You can register for the series here.


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