You knew the needs in your community. Your mission and strategic plan laid the path you’d walk to meet those needs. You were steady with one foot intentionally placed in front of the other. Enter the pandemic and an unrecognizable world.
Now the gap you and your partners fill has become a canyon. Addressing it will undoubtedly have its ups and downs, but with a lens of continuous improvement, patience, and grace you will get through it! Your new challenge is to bridge that canyon to meet the needs of your partners, supporters, team, and organization.
Each of you have unique situations, needs, and communities. Here are some ideas to consider to help weather this storm and best serve your community.
How you can help your partners:
• Listen to your partner agencies. What’s happening on the ground? What are they hearing from the people they serve? What challenges are bubbling to the surface? How are they and their volunteers holding up? How can you help? Listening will give you actionable information to help you deploy your resources effectively and will show your partners that you truly are in this with them.
• Create connections between stakeholders to leverage impact. Funders often have the advantage of a mountain-top view of services and resources being provided across agencies, volunteers, and community groups. Facilitating introductions and inviting everyone to the table around critical needs could result in powerful solutions to unprecedented challenges.
• Funding flexibility may allow your partners to pivot to meet evolving community needs. This could mean allowing funds to be used for operating expenses, reducing reporting requirements, or increasing funding for urgent needs.
• Spread the word about the support your partners need, the services they are providing, and the amazing work they are doing! Our communities need good news, and this could be just the thing.
How you can help your supporters:
• Ask them how they are doing. Your volunteers, donors, and advocates make it possible to do all the good work you do. Let them know you are thinking about them, ask them how they are holding up, and offer messages with resources. They’ve been there for you, now let them know you are there for them.
• Be transparent about how this impacts your organization and your work. Every organization is being impacted differently. Have you transitioned to working remotely? Are you pulling from your reserves to provide services? Are you experiencing a surge in volunteer needs? Keep your supporters informed to keep them engaged.
• Nurture relationships with them. Now is a great time to say “thank you”. Those who’ve advocated for you and your mission, contributed financially, or given their time have and will continue to make your organization’s work that much more powerful. Remind them of their impact in the past. Let them know how much they mean to you and what their contribution means to the community.
How you can help your team:
• Keep everyone in the loop. When working remotely or under stress, it is easy to forget to keep your team members informed. Go the extra mile to make sure your team is aware of important decisions and plans. Have a quick daily video/phone meeting, copy the whole team on essential messages. Find what fits your team so no one is in the dark.
• Keep connections alive while working remotely. Where’s your virtual water cooler? Foster and facilitate opportunities for those spur-of-the-moment conversations to occur between team members.
• Meaningful activities for all! Some work translates more readily to a remote environment. Some organizations may find their standard services are not needed as urgently during this time. Use this time to tackle those important but not urgent projects (cleaning up your database, anyone?) that have fallen to the back burner to keep your team engaged.
• Give grace and space. You’ve heard it a thousand times at this point but it can’t be said enough. Giving and receiving grace from the team when needed and space to juggle unique circumstances will help everyone get through this time.
How you can help your organization:
• Identify opportunities to build resiliency. When the going gets tough, internal gaps often bubble to the surface. Whether it’s a need for a reserve fund, more efficient technology, or improved emergency policies, now may not be the time to address them but make sure they are addressed later.
• Plan for today, next month, and next year….as best you can. While you are addressing urgent needs today, these challenges may be here for quite some time. Engage your board and your team in preparing for an evolving situation for your community and your team.
• Communicate with and engage everyone. This means the people you serve, your team, your volunteers, your partners, your corporate sponsors, your local officials, your community…everyone! Without these good folks there is no you! Keep everyone connected to your organization, provide them resources, and maybe even a good laugh with proactive outreach.
Seabrooks has been privileged to support the organizations we serve as they build their unique bridges with the help of e-CImpact. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to share how our organization can support yours.