5 lessons learned from the pandemic for the Non-Profits sector

19 OCT 2021
5 lessons learned from the pandemic for the Non-Profits sector

The persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic has levied significant hardships upon communities and the Non-Profit organizations that serve them. From flat-lining contributions to reduced staff and resources to outdated legacy technology, Non-Profits are struggling across the board.

But it’s also a time of opportunity.

While we haven’t reached the end of the pandemic by any stretch, we’re now in a position to glean important lessons learned from the pandemic that will not only help Non-Profits survive the remainder of the pandemic — but thrive in the midst of the ongoing global crisis.

Lesson #1: Reimagine your impact

Reimagining an organization is tough on a good day — let alone during a crisis.

Leaders who are overwhelmed with urgent short-term demands and a gnawing sense of uncertainty often feel unable to assume more responsibilities. But the job is necessary.

Non-Profits exist to have impact.

So the first step in reshaping your organization, to meet the pressures of the pandemic, is clearly defining what you want that impact to be.

Gather input as broadly as possible — from staff, the board, volunteers, and others. Remember, the world as we knew it has changed; and so to should your strategies change in tandem.

Ask questions like, “Who are our core constituents?” and “What impact do they need us to have?” Inquire about whether those needs have changed because of the pandemic.

Focusing on impact will allow you to hone in on what is of crucial importance to the people you’re helping — and to those from whom you are soliciting funds.

Lesson #2: Rethink your finances

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, one thing is for sure — rapid changes are upon us, and they’re here to stay. Thus, the manner in which your Non-Profit spends its money probably needs to change as well.

Make sure you know the true costs of your programs. Your operational costs. Your capital costs. If you know the fully allocated costs of whatever programs you imagine running — in-person or virtual — you’ll be able to clearly communicate the cost of impact and seek the right level of funding to deliver it.

Lesson #3: Seek out new opportunities for fundraising

And don’t be afraid of going digital!

Zoomtopia held a virtual gala with all the frills of a real-life event — including fancy invitations, a dress-to-impress guest list, celebrity performances, signature cocktails, and a host committee. New virtual fundraising ideas popping up, as Non-Profits find ways to keep fundraising alive during Covid-19!

One such idea is “third-party fundraising” (also known as “DIY fundraising”), which involves asking your supporters to raise money on your Non-Profit’s behalf.

The CAMH Foundation, for example, launched a specialized Community Fundraisers website that incites third-party fundraisers to begin their own fundraiser to raise money for the cause — including ready-made ideas for hosting fundraisers, removing the barriers to entry and making it easier for newbies to get started.

Lesson #4: Build your online community

As we know, Non-Profits rely on donations in order to survive and — since the onset of the pandemic — this has become even more challenging.

As people become more comfortable with their mobile devices during the pandemic, social media provides Non-Profits with a captive audience, ready for engagement.

If you want an example of “who’s doing it well,” take a look at World Wide Fund for Nature  — a Non-Profit organization that spearheaded Earth Hour , a successful interactive content campaign. The annual Earth Hour campaign requests that people turn off their lights for one hour and uses the #EarthHour hashtag (among others) to get more eyes (and engagement) on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts. In 2020, 90 countries and territories took part in the event and it generated over 4.7 billion global social media impressions!

Lesson #5: Adopt new technologies

According to a recent report in Forbes Magazine, 7-in-10 Non-Profits claim to be struggling with the digital fundraising pivot  brought on by the pandemic. This, of course, is the tip of a longer spear; according to that same study, the same number of Non-Profit organizations report difficulty adapting to the changing times with their older, legacy technologies in hand.

When it comes to adopting new technologies, you’ll need to get “buy in” from the board of directors. To guide that discussion, ask the following questions:

  • What are our current processes for donor or volunteer management?
  • How are we tracking funding opportunities, whether through grants or sponsorships?
  • What tools are we using to oversee your campaigns?
  • Which systems— digital or otherwise — are currently connected?

From there, you and your team can begin to map the answers to these questions to your organizations biggest challenges — such as funding cuts, reduced donations, interruptions to operations, and all of those other challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

At the end of the day, successful Non-Profits are clear on the impact they wish to have, they know their core audience and how to reach them, they’re active on social media and they’re keen on digital transformation.

The COVID-19 vaccine has lifted the hopes of people and businesses from around the world. As you prepare for 2022 and beyond, bear in mind these lessons learned from the pandemic for a sustainable future.

To learn more about how to inspire a digital transformation in your Non-Profit, reach out to one of our technology experts today!