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How do we get to 'better than normal'?

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Idaho Nonprofit Leaders Covid-19 Insight Report

Idaho Partners for Good recently (April 2020) collected and analyzed data from key nonprofit leaders to better understand the pain points and opportunities inherent in the sector during this turbulent time in order to identify how best to support them going forward.

Key challenges

  • Biggest priorities are ensuring their clients and community have access to basic essentials. Some have had increases in demand for services (eg. 250%) over the past month and are struggling to find resources. Others have temporarily closed their doors or limited service hours.

  • Many have spent their annual budgets on basic supplies to provide to their clients.

  • Many have experienced a reduction of revenue due to cancelled fundraising events.

  • As unsexy as it is, they need funding for general operations.

  • A big emerging need is for volunteer support because many depend on retired citizens whose health is at-risk. (e.g people to deliver food boxes and meals to those who can't leave their homes).

  • Many have shifted their operations to pivot to meet the current needs but there is a lot of uncertainty about how to navigate the future. A key question has been: What’s the next step my organization has to take to come out whole on the other side?

  • There’s a predatory aspect identified. Lots of people with too little expertise are pushing out information which is filling email, social media and taking time away from what they need to focus on to meet their specific needs.

  • Lots of pressure on the shoulders of executive directors--many are overwhelmed by managing payroll, paperwork associated with PPP, realizing their strategic plan doesn’t work in these times and probably won’t work going forward, the need to help employees maintain their emotional health and a regular routine and schedule from home, trusting employees are productive when working remotely.

Key solutions identified

  • An appreciation for the government’s new attitude of relaxing rules to be able to serve their clients in new ways - eg. tele-health

  • Need to redefine what success looks like going forward

  • Priorities have shifted at the philanthropic level to respond to Covid-19. Many are now giving unrestricted operating funds.

  • The need for more creativity and innovation

  • Many people are responding with great resilience

  • Those that built out reserves (6-12 months) are doing ok

  • The physical office space they need will likely decrease as they have people work from home going forward.

One executive director’s response to this question: What are the top things you recommend your colleagues do?

  • Determine your value and relevance to your client base. They are asking themselves--Where can we be the most useful? What are clients asking for? What can we provide, right now to meet their needs?

  • Anticipate what their organization needs next.

Plan to address and support Idaho nonprofits

This data helped us clarify how best to come alongside nonprofit leaders to help them figure out their new normal. They need experts and thought partners to help cultivate and test ideas for new methods of service delivery, identify new fundraising possibilities, find volunteers and support the leadership team to co-design the approach that best moves them forward in this new environment.

We are doing the stuff! We are piloting the approach with a nonprofit to learn what works and what doesn't. We are evaluating the process of identifying and recruiting investees so we can provide funding (unrestricted) and Partners to design solutions with them.

We also have a team of top-notch consultants ready to deploy to help them thrive in a post-Covid environment. This team of Idaho experts will help your key grantees find their place going forward and plan a future that is stable, relevant and meets the needs of their clients.

Participants: We conducted this in a confidential manner so leaders (Senior leadership staff and/or Board members) were able to disclose their thoughts with candor. There were four nonprofit leaders participating in the Listening Session who are serving a range of issues and types of people (local + global). We then worked with eight leaders representing different parts of the state and working on different issues.

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