July 21, 2020; Model D Media

We are living in a time of disruption where the very ground that we have built our work on is, and will be for a while, uncertain and evolving. It is time for nonprofit leaders to take a step back, reconsider their strategies, and experiment, but doing it entirely on our own is unnecessary in this emerging environment, so it is on all of us to get into the conversations around us where we can hear what has worked and failed for others, and there are a lot of new approaches being tried.

For instance, rather than simply converting physical to digital, nonprofits are considering more innovation to develop their online fundraising programs in creative ways. For example, many have been creating self-produced 15-second TikTok videos to engage a younger audience—or using gaming platforms to find influencers that align with (and will fundraise for) their cause.

Similar to the fundraising tool on the currently disgraced Facebook, Instagram recently launched a test of Personal Fundraiser. This new platform will allow nonprofit organizations to dive deeper into peer-to-peer fundraising as supporters, volunteers, and loyal donors can use the Donate sticker in their story or start a fundraiser on Live.

But these kinds of adaptations are not easy to keep up with unless you have very communicative colleagues, so associations are stepping up to support the nonprofit sector by helping organizations to navigate through the uncertainties and keeping them informed about new opportunities. For example, Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) conducts regular check-in phone calls and policy updates and presented a four-part, expert-led webinar about Paycheck Protection Program loans.

“We’re trying to make sure nonprofits know what these programs are, since many of them offer capital that nonprofits haven’t traditionally had access to,” Kelley Kuhn, vice president and chief strategy officer of MNA shared with Model D Media.

These kinds of meeting places are emerging all over the country and they are essential in times of disruption when whatever a new normal may be is still somewhat distant. Often, they respond to the realities of particular fields or a particular locality or both, but the beauty of these times is that you can be connected to multiple such sources of ideas, resources, and experience. Board and staff members can help you scan and rescan the changing landscape for threats and possibilities but, of course, in all this change, maintaining and adapting your own sense of purpose will likely also evolve with the times.—Deidre Fraser and Ruth McCambridge