The world will be a different place when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. But the world will still be here. At that time, there will be work to be done, needs to be met and new opportunities for all of us who don’t succumb to negativity, paralysis or panic.
As one of the most successful species on Earth, humans have survived and advanced because of our ingenuity, flexibility and adaptability. Throughout evolutionary history, those who adapt to new circumstances succeed and thrive. This is true of entities well as individuals, and true of nonprofits as well as for-profit businesses.
Most of us (and our organizations) will feel dislocation, pain and loss as a result of the pandemic. How we respond to it will materially affect how well we get through it and how well we do once it passes.
How Will You Respond to the Pandemic?
How should we respond? This question can be answered in both the affirmative – here’s what to do – and the negative – here’s what not to do. This is a crisis of great magnitude, but it is not unprecedented. 9/11, the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu pandemic are three examples from the last 100 years or so.
What the history of these events teaches us is that the vast majority of people become overwhelmed by a paralyzing fear – as is the case now. This fear, based on the threat of a COVID-19 infection, the high degree of uncertainty, the constant sense of alarm spread by media, and the feeling that things “will never be the same,” causes most people to hunker down, put their heads in the proverbial sand and wait for the crisis to pass.
In addition, there is a minority who are of the mind that the world – or at least their world – is going to end. In their minds, the current crisis is the Apocalypse. As a result, they act shortsightedly and panic.
People and businesses who succumb to these responses will likely survive the pandemic but will not be prepared for the new reality that is to come. There is a better response.
People and organizations can, instead – while they are hurting and acknowledge the pain and dislocation we will all experience – embrace the understanding that this too shall pass and that its ending will bring new opportunity. Those of us whose heads are not in the sand and who do not panic will be positioned to thrive by recognizing and acting on that opportunity. This requires a proactive, forwarding looking, mindset of positivity and, dare I say it, abundance.
Opportunity When the Pandemic Ends
It is important to be clear what is meant by opportunity. Post-COVID-19, there will be all varieties of needs that will have to be served. These will include new programs and services that arise in response to the effects and after-effects of the pandemic. In the nonprofit world, government, foundations and other funders will be scrambling to find nonprofits to fund that are still staffed and operating to serve those needs. There will be strategic opportunities – mergers, collaborations and new ways of working together. Nonprofits whose leadership and boards are able to seize those opportunities when they arrive will be positioned to receive those funds and fulfill the needs of society. Not only will they survive the crisis, they will emerge strong and as leaders in their fields.
To be in such a position, nonprofits must continue to serve their core mission throughout the crisis and retain their people as much as possible. Those organizations that maintain a positive, innovative mindset will be best positioned to act on the opportunities that will flourish at the other end of the pandemic.