The consequences of COVID-19 are difficult to imagine. But one thing is becoming certain: the foundation of how the social sector operates is shifting in long-term ways. How organizations respond in the next few weeks will determine the future of the sector. We believe that COVID-19 will produce three types of social sector organizations by 2021:
“The Forgotten Many”. These organizations’ leaders assumed we were in a “wait-it-out” scenario and didn’t re-write their playbook for a new normal. Making only minor tweaks, they assumed that if they could hold onto enough cash, the storm would pass and they could resume the operations they’ve built to-date. These organizations do not exist in 2021. They’re out of business.
“The Safe Enough”. These organizations have the cash position and the “blue-chip” status to endure 2+ years of recession and cultural shifts. Their financial safety allows them to continue their work without much fundamental change to the way they operate. Congratulations to Harvard University and the American Red Cross.
“The Imaginative Few”. These organizations are led by individuals who recognize reality and respond swiftly and imaginatively. Organizations in this category redesigned their programming and fundraising to flourish for a new reality that is measured in years, not months. They quickly re-designed how to deliver their programming and developed the strategic focus necessary to fundraise with a radical commitment to donor-connection.
To become an Imaginative Few we have to see reality as it is:
COVID-19 has ushered in (and is still ushering) a new normal, both economically and culturally. The Imaginative Few are NOT WAITING IT OUT.
They are not making tweaks to get by. They are designing their organizations to flourish and thrive with the belief that this is an 18-24 month reality. Yes, we will not always be in lockdown but the economy is not bouncing back anytime soon and the ways in which people gather will likely be limited.
The Imaginative Few understand that a day of inaction will be measured in weeks or months of severe consequences.
But more than anything, the Imaginative Few are realistic, creative, and energized by the opportunity to build something anew. Are you?
Want to learn more about the times we're in? We strongly encourage leaders to read Praxis' Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now A Startup.