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SSIR: How Nonprofits Can Stay Relevant in the Age of Covid-19

An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review lays out what nonprofits must do to ramp up their social impact, economic viability and capacity to bring about positive change in the wake of the pandemic. Compassionate leadership, says LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones in the piece, is the overarching approach that can make all the difference in how nonprofits function during and after the crisis.

The excerpt below was originally published on:
Three Things Nonprofits Should Prioritize in the Wake of COVID-19
by Amy Celep, Megan Coolidge & Lori Bartczak from Stanford Social Innovation Review

Capacity to Deliver: What Supports What You Do?

Delivering social impact requires talent, systems, and processes. In response to stay-at-home orders across the world, organizations have had to shift to virtual operations, make up for lost volunteers, and deal with other challenges to capacity. Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, for example, had to move fast to establish technology and infrastructure so that it could launch telehealth services to patients months earlier than originally planned. Meanwhile Share Our Strength (our parent organization) has experienced a dramatic decrease in earned revenue from events and a dramatic increase in giving from individual donors, and therefore shifted its team’s capacity to focus on fundraising.

While different organizations have different capacity needs, these four are core to sustainability:

  • Leadership capacity. Organizations that remain resilient during challenging times tend to have strong and diffuse leadership that can make quick decisions in response to evolving challenges. Prioritizing a well-functioning executive team, frequent and transparent communications with staff, and good governance practices all help build and maintain the kind of trust a productive culture requires. This moment also demands that leadership recognize the full humanity of staff members, and model authenticity and vulnerability. “We’ve had to up our game in matters of the heart, and give people permission, through our words and deeds, to display their pain,” Maurice Jones, CEO of LISC, told us. At a recent, virtual staff meeting, Jones reflected on what religious holidays might mean to people during this time. Leaders who embrace authenticity now will also be better positioned to recruit, retain, and support their talent over the long-term. (Read more on leading during COVID-19 here.)

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