By Catherine Smith, Director of Learning and Innovation, Sangfroid Strategy
When the pandemic hit earlier this year, we wrote about how the nonprofit sector would need to adapt and innovate to survive, and shined a Social Good Spotlight on almost a dozen nonprofits and their inspiring abilities to pivot quickly. As we get ready to wrap up a year of uncertainty and change, where have the drastic changes to operations, staffing, and programming left your organization?
Today we are going to talk about how your nonprofit can celebrate the changes you made in 2020 while using the lessons you’ve learned to move forward into the new year with increased levels of ownership and higher responsibility. By now you should have some idea of how your organization’s response to COVID-19 changed the way the people you serve receive your services. We encourage your nonprofit organization to spend some time reflecting on the following questions:
1. How have you centered the changes to your work around your organization’s mission?
Are your current activities in alignment with your organization’s core purpose? Slow down to speed up. This process of digging deeper into your WHY will help drive forward your WHAT and HOW as you move forward.
2. How can you celebrate the adaptations and innovations of your programming?
Have any positive things come out of the changes you made? Maybe you’ve been able to serve your clients in new ways, or perhaps you’ve been able to serve new clients altogether. We encourage you to celebrate these little wins, and use them to energize you as you move forward. Now, as you think of the innovations that you have responded to 2020 with, consider which of those changes will stay for good, and how they can serve your clients and organization better in the years to come.
3. How can you hold your organization to high standards and expectations as we move forward from this year?
With metrics changing, and so much of your organization’s formal accountability measures (grants, annual reports, etc.) disrupted, how have you changed the ways you collect data and set goals for 2021? We want you to take the time to think about where your organization is going next, and how you will get there. Considering that so much programming changed in 2020 it is now important to discuss and decide what you are now looking to accomplish. How will you measure your innovation and progress in this new environment? We recommend setting up new goals for the changed circumstances and finding new ways to measure and communicate how your organization is making a difference.
This year, many nonprofits have been forced to make a series of big decisions that have led to changes in the way they run programs. It’s time now to figure out how to track and measure those changes and their impact on the communities you serve, while also considering their impact on the future of your organization. Consider the new business model of GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland, an organization that has rooted its pandemic response to the needs of their clients.
GiGi’s Playhouse Cleveland is an achievement center for individuals with Down syndrome. GiGi’s prides itself on providing developmentally appropriate activities for their friends and families. Knowing that the pandemic would have huge effects on the physical, social, and emotional well-being of their clients, they made significant programmatic changes that centered around their mission.
Since the pandemic hit, GiGi’s national organization innovated to create GiGi’s at Home which consists of 250 on-demand programs and 28 weekly live programs. In just 5 days they had this new model of delivery up and running and were ready to meet their mission in a new way. While their friends were glad to get back to the Playhouse when it reopened at limited capacity in early September, the organization barely missed a beat in their programming available for their friends and families.
So, how can an organization like GiGi’s maintain improvements from 2020 and move forward with changes for long-term growth? It is time to loop back and connect that mission to each activity they now do, and set new metrics and goals around what they hope to accomplish. In the meantime, they should also celebrate for keeping the “virtual” doors open and meeting their community’s needs in a new way this year.
Take some inspiration from GiGi’s and celebrate the changes your organization has made (under huge levels of stress and national unrest), while setting the time now to plan and ensure high levels of accountability moving forward. After all, that mission you aim for each day is still important, and while you may not meet it “as usual” it doesn’t mean we have to give up on meeting it all together.
If you are struggling to meet your mission, want to reflect on your organizational goals, or are looking for new partners in your work, schedule a free 30-minute consultation and let’s chat about how we can help!