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Reimagining Nonprofits to Survive the Crisis

In the midst of COVID-19, nonprofit organizations are seeing donations drop, doors close, and cash reserves dwindle. Together with the uncertainty and demands the pandemic has created on us, it all makes for a truly worrying time.

Reimagining an organization is hard, especially during a crisis. Leaders are overwhelmed with day-to-day surprises, urgent short-term demands, and a growing sense of uncertainty which often leads to not being able to take on other challenges.

Nonprofits are created to have impacts. As we've seen during the pandemic, crises force organizations to think creatively about new ways to engage and serve their communities. A common theme with nonprofits who have been able to successfully sustain their mission has been their ability to successfully adapt to change quickly. For example, successful healthcare organizations have rapidly adapted from in-person appointments to telehealth meetings, as well as adjusted to new regulatory requirements for monitoring and responding to the pandemic. Overall, nonprofit healthcare organizations around the world have had to pivot to a less-traditional way of delivering care. The underlying commonality to any nonprofit operating in this new environment is being able to adapt rapidly in order to continue client outreach and ensure they receive service without interruption.

Fundraising during a Pandemic

In the nonprofit space, most fundraising events have also become virtual. Getting donors to attend yet another Zoom event is proving to be a real challenge — and getting them to engage once they attend can be even harder. It is difficult to replace the dynamism and emotional resonance of an in-person social event, and the potential peer pressure of seeing other individuals donate at a live event is absent. Nevertheless, nonprofits can continue to reach out to potential donors and network in whatever way they can, because although these virtual efforts may not have the same immediate results, the efforts still help to build a solid engagement strategy that can help grow their impact over time — despite the constraints of a pandemic. It's important to remember that a personalized, human 'touch' - be it a letter, email, phone call or video chat - is always appreciated.

Silver Linings for the Future

There are innovations that have come out of the challenges brought about by the pandemic. As mentioned earlier, telehealth services may easily be the future of how healthcare is delivered to more patients. It may also lead to better preventive care due to the greater convenience and ease of patients attending a telehealth appointment rather than having to go to a clinic.

Having to pivot during a pandemic is not easy — especially for many nonprofit organizations on the front lines providing essential services. The challenges may seem overwhelming, however, there are opportunities for innovation and growth that can develop out of this crisis. It is important to remember that we are all going through the same thing. Let's try and continue to be open-minded, creative and inspired in continuing our mission to help others.

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