5 Immediate Opportunities Charity Leaders Risk Missing

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” – Winston Churchill 

As plans to begin relaxing public health measures and re-open parts of the economic sector are being announced many of us are  asking what will be different post-COVID. In many of these conversations people seem to be operating from a passive posture. We are trying to anticipate broad societal changes over which we have little or no direct influence.

As valuable as it is to do scenario planning to respond well to outside forces, there is a better exercise for leaders right now.

What are the changes this season makes possible for your organization?

Here are a few possibilities you might consider:

1. Establish an Innovation Incubator: We’ve been adapting so rapidly in the last two months that we now understand that it is possible to make significant changes quickly, and to launch them incomplete and improve them on the fly. Start up organizations do this intuitively. More mature organizations may need to set aside an allocation of time, energy, people, and resources to operate a “skunk works” unit who are expected and empowered to experiment with ideas, approaches, and programs that are higher risk than most. Our generation of continuous change will favour those leaders who devote some portion of their support to entrepreneurial innovation.

2. Seek and Destroy: Most leaders have something in their organizations that they would love to eliminate, but haven’t had the courage, political clout, or justification to do so. Some of these are sacred cows and invisible elephants, others are systems, events, or projects that are just slightly too far out of alignment with the strategic direction or of too little impact to continue. You are unlikely to ever again have such an opportunity to clean up your organization according to your priorities. Now is the time.

3. Transform Governance: Board directors have been exposed by this crisis. Some have risen to the challenge to offer greater insight and support to the organization. Others have revealed their lack of awareness or commitment. When we were making urgent and difficult decisions in the early days and weeks of the pandemic impacting our work we saw what our boards are truly providing. As we anticipate emerging in the months to come we may be able to clarify the roles and expectations of the board in new ways. Start with understanding the 6 Hats each board member wears, then have a discussion about what kind of board you really need for the next stage of your work. Adjust accordingly.

4. Buff Your Brand: This crisis has forced us to examine our priorities in profound ways. Some things about how we function have been affirmed, others found wanting. These odd months before a new normal is truly in place are a chance for reviewing the way you represent your organization to your constituents or the public at large. Many marketing consultants are offering online workshops at discounted rates or for free. Whether it’s a new website, strategic social media, a deep cleaning of all your old blog posts, or any other aspect of your brand; your image and reputation can be shaped to best represent where you want to be in the future.

5. Stimulate Celebration: When I first developed the tool that became The REACTION Dashboard the idea that celebration was a major strategic and cultural point of leverage wasn’t on my radar. It has become the aspect that most leaders tell me has had the greatest impact on their lives and leadership. Exploring creative ways to involve your team, donors, beneficiaries, and community in celebrating in these days when we long for good news is a powerful opportunity. The culture of your organization is being shaped by everything that is happening. Wise leaders aren’t just letting that happen. Are you intentionally making yours a culture that celebrates meaningfully?

Catalyst is happy to provide a free consultation with charity leaders who are working to be healthy leaders leading healthy organizations. Contact us to set up a session.