a young women with curly hair and glasses sitting on the floor in front of a couch working on a laptop

By: Carrie Fox, Mission Partners CEO + Jessica Hassanzadeh, Mission Partners Managing Director

In a COVID-19 world, our opportunities to connect with others outside of our current teams and family members are limited. People are seeking new ways to connect, network, and just talk with others. People are struggling with a variety of professional, personal, and health-related challenges, while navigating through the uncertainties of COVID-19. Many of us have developed strengths in certain areas that others desperately need help navigating, and it’s our time to share these tips with each other to help lift up our community during these tough times. Mission Partners will host weekly virtual community conversations every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET during this period of quarantine.

Below is a recap of our first community conversation on April 16 titled Shifting Your 2020 Business + Development Strategies During COVID-19.

Organizational Challenges

Organizations face a variety of new challenges in a COVID-19 world. These range to include:

  • Access to human capital: There is a dramatic reduction of people in the workforce and the number of volunteers but the number of people in need of assistance is increasing. 
  • Shifting operations: It can be challenging to create digital services and shift from on-site operations to a virtual format. People are generally gaining comfort with digital services, but it can be difficult to deliver a high-quality experience and create the same meaningful, personal relationships. 
  • Staff management: Some employees may be  working longer hours, while some are now working shorter hours due to caregiving or homeschooling. There is a major shift in work/life balance that has yet to stabilize. 

Tactics for Addressing Organizational Challenges

As you think about adjusting your business to overcome the challenges of COVID-19, it is important to figure out: How does the world need us to show up right now? What is the relevance for what you are doing at this time? Some tactics include:

  • Digital engagement: Begin to shift mainly to digital engagement through social media, video calls, and releasing digital content. 
  • Taking advantage of accessibility: Take advantage of the reduced barriers to engagement. There used to be heavy planning and scheduling resources needed to connect in person. Now people are more willing to jump on the phone for a quick call and it can be easier to stay in touch. 
  • Reframing the situation: A few months ago, Zoom may have seemed like a less substantive way to connect or a substitute for in person connection. But now you can think of it as an easily accessible way to stay in close contact. 
  • Evolve as you think of a post-COVID-19 return: It is important to think about how we return differently. COVID-19 will fundamentally change the way things operate and as we adapt, we need to create space for conversations about how the pandemic will change work, fundraising, events, conferences. 

Taking New Approaches 

Innovation is often born during times of crisis. The following approaches may be helpful in rethinking how an organization can show up differently in a COVID-19 world.

  • Be creative about engaging volunteers: Perhaps shift operating procedures to involve donors in new, decentralized ways.  Focus on restructuring volunteer activities so individuals can participate from their homes. Even if you can only recreate part of the volunteer experience in this way, it will still help you stay connected with supporters and possibly even create a broader reach than before. 
  • Rethink fundraising, especially when it comes to events: Can you replace the product or service you were initially providing with a digital service? The goal is to raise money and people were open to giving initially – so it is important to find a way to refocus that generosity. 
  • Stay in touch: Even if it is impossible to provide pre-COVID services during this time, staying in close contact with clients, donors, or volunteers can go a long way. There is an opportunity to provide information and support – not just services. 
  • Find new ways to collaborate: How can you split resources and share expertise to create a new product or service that is tailored to the time? 
  • Trade assets: Be creative in finding ways to move your mission forward without spending additional resources. If there are services you need for a project or new venture, trade assets with a service provider to offer them value in an innovative or non-traditional way. This could mean trading consulting services for graphic design services, or media training for copy editing. Find how you can leverage your strengths and exchange skill sets. 

Silver Linings and Self-Care

It may be challenging to find silver linings during this difficult time, but creating space for gratitude, self-care, or wellness can benefit both you and your business. Common tactics include exercise, meditation, turning to faith, reconnecting with old friends or colleagues, taking walks, or exploring new hobbies. For some, COVID-19 is creating a swift pause that may provide the opportunity to recalibrate and fully prepare for the next endeavor.

Join the Next Conversation

If you found value in these ideas, we hope you will join us in our upcoming community conversations, where we bring together an intimate group of business and community leaders to exchange ideas on how we can get through this time together. Find details and register for upcoming virtual conversations here.