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The lockdown in the UK has demonstrated the strength of the nonprofit sector in working together, often more successfully at a local level. Speaking with colleagues regularly, they tell me that there is clearly more joined up activity happening in communities, driven by communities and community organisations than activity happening at a national or international level. Some organisations are doing it better than others and some organisations will not survive this pandemic.

Those that are doing well have the following three traits in common (more or less):

Collaboration: collaboration is clearly happening and many people are saying that the restrictions have actually increased communication and discussion. At the moment collaboration is often informal and focused on the short term. But some are saying that this new ability to speak to and work with other organisations So flexibly should be something that we need to keep. Its a positive thing.

Resilience: being able to flexibly work with other organisations is a hallmark of resilience and it really is going to be the more resilient organisations that survive in this ‘new normal’. Resilience is a mindset as much as it is systems and processes in an organisation. Does your organisation have the kind of culture where people are encouraged to proactively solve problems, think about solutions and identify opportunities, even outside of their remit? Many will say yes, because they want this to be true. But how many organisations actually do empower their staff in this way? But beyond the organisation, is the service or intervention that your organisation delivers resilient? Why does that matter? Because sometimes good services are delivered by weak organisations. Sometimes we need to consider resilience not in terms of an organisation, but rather of a service. This might sound odd, but in a time when the organisation as a delivery structure in the nonprofit sector is under threat (or at the very least under review), resilience may be as much about what is being delivered, as it is about how.

Preparedness: you might tell me that there is no way that organisations could be prepared for lockdown, the pandemic and the fallout from working at home. I will tell you that being prepared (apart from being the Scouts’ motto) is just basic common sense. This is more than having a risk register, or even reviewing the risk register on a regular basis. This is about having thought through how your organisation might deliver not only ‘business-as-usual’ if that’s needed, but also how quickly your organisation can respond to opportunity and threat in general – regardless of what that opportunity or threat is. A sort of enhanced recovery plan that factors in complexity and uncertainty, if you will.

What are you doing, can you do, to consider how you and your organisation can adapt to the new normal through collaboration, resilience and preparedness?


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