Adapt to circumstances at hand by implementing these useful practices during a crisis.

Photo by Kimberly Dodd

Starting a non-profit can be exhilarating. Entrepreneurs, social creators, and non-profit founders know the amount of work behind creating and sustaining a non-profit from creating programs and projects to support the vision (exciting!) to filing paperwork, performing administrative functions, and securing funding (overwhelming!).

During a pandemic, the daily weight of a non-profit’s functions can seem too large to manage and can feel daunting especially when thinking about completing and delegating tasks with an already stretched budget and staff. However, there is work to be done. For many experiencing the strain of this pandemic, it can be challenging to figure out the first in helping your non-profit venture thrive during this time.

I work in Haiti, a country where adaptation is one of the most valuable soft skills one can have. However, it is not just in Haiti where this often-overlooked skill can be helpful. Right now, we should be trying our best to adapt to the circumstances at hand.

Here are useful practices to implement during a crisis.

01 | Adapt, adapt, adapt.
Did I mention the importance of adapting? It’s easy to say, but always challenging to put into practice. Another way to say this is “have a strong mission but be flexible in your methods.” Make sure you’re keeping focused on the critical things and being flexible on how and when it happens.

02 | Continue to focus on your mission and vision.
During a pandemic, our methods will change a bit, and that is a normal, proper response to these unprecedented times. However, the methods you use should not impact your overall vision and mission. This is a time to make sure you are continuing to serve your beneficiaries in the way the non-profit is required to do so, not adjusting things for the sake of the virus. For instance, we want to help communities thrive in Haiti, and right now, serving looks different with more in the vein of giving food rations and teaching on hygiene and sanitation. However, we are continuing to operate our mission through this time, bringing life to our programs, staff, and non-profit as a whole.

03 | Share with your team.
Communication is always essential, but it is during these times, it is imperative. Work to create a space of openness, vulnerability, and hope. Don’t pressure yourself to achieve more than you are doing at the moment. Also, allow time for your team to mourn and manage their response to the pandemic, and then work as they can. Remind them of this truth: their health, happiness, and overall wellbeing are more important than completing a project in pre-pandemic timelines.

04 | Communicate with your stakeholders.
When people give, it is a sacrifice. When people give during this tough time, it is even more of a sacrifice. Engage and communicate with your stakeholders by sharing about program changes due to the pandemic. Communicate what you are doing with hope, grounded wisdom, and honesty. You might be surprised at what your stories of hope will do for those dealing with challenging circumstances!

05 | Make sure you’re using the proper measuring stick.
 There are a million different ways to measure the “success” of a non-profit organization. During this time, the comparison game is even more intense. Thoughts can swell up like “I wish I would have thought to respond in that way,” or “If I had the funding they had, our organization would have been able to do this much better.” Don’t go down that road! Refer back to your mission. What is your organization aiming to do? Are they doing that? Do your staff, partners, and beneficiaries feel safe enough to share their concerns with you? Do you have good relationships with stakeholders? Now is the time to look at the ways you measure success for yourself and your organization.

Be kind to yourself, your teams, your organization, and remember, this will pass.

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