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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

3 Tools to Help Your Nonprofit Navigate the Pandemic & Economic Shutdown


Like so many other non-profit organizations, Hope for Haiti is facing the reality that we are going to experience organizational disruptions, changes to some core activities, and a possible decrease in revenue due to the spread of the novel coronavirus and the massive changes in human behavior that have occurred since the pandemic began.

Last month, our leadership team worked together to develop a unique organizational approach to our new reality. We took great care in using lessons learned from our response during the 2010 Earthquake, Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic, and Hurricane Matthew to plan our response.  Information-sharing in this industry is critical during these times, and we’re sharing the tools we used with you today in the hope they can be helpful in deciding where to focus your time and attention during this very challenging period.

Here are the three resources we’ve found most useful:
  1. Core Operating Principles: Inspired by the work of Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio and his book Principles, we revisited and revised Hope for Haiti’s “Top 10 Core Operating Principles.” In our experience, having a code of operations and core principles is critical to operating efficiently and effectively, especially during times of great turmoil.  You HAVE to develop your organization’s core operating principles first before doing anything else on this list! You can download Hope for Haiti’s Core Operating Principles HERE, and modify them to apply to your organization. 
  2. Situational SWOT Analysis: Our leadership team frequently uses a SWOT Analysis to identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats during strategic planning and for any emergent situation. In the instance of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we broke up into smaller groups to assess the situation’s impact on our Core Programs, HR/Culture/Finance, Development/Fundraising, and Marketing/Communications. We asked the leadership team to read the most recent update from the CDC and an article published in the Harvard Business Review before answering the SWOT questions. You can download the SWOT Analysis Template HERE and modify them to apply to your organization.
  3. Situational SWOT Matrix: Once our leadership team completed their SWOT Analyses, we combined their responses into a SWOT Matrix that allowed us to identify high, medium, and low priority areas of interest. We then decided on a specific corresponding action to each area of interest on the matrix to guide our activities during these difficult days ahead. This tool was most helpful in identifying where we should spend our time and resources, and where we should stop spending our time and resources given our new reality.  You can download Hope for Haiti’s SWOT Matrix HERE and modify it to apply to your organization.

While you may be tempted to solely focus your programming on responding to the crisis at-hand, it’s vital to not lose sight of your main mission or your organization’s vision. At Hope for Haiti, this means we’re still issuing a $30k cash transfer this week to cover the salaries of 429 teachers at our partner schools, among other key programmatic activities. By developing a detailed short- and long-term action plan through these three tools, your organization can continue to support your core programs while still providing a rapid and effective response to COVID-19. In this time of global crisis, we also highly recommend checking in with your partners and donor base to see how they are doing and to communicate your action plan and the steps you have taken. We’ve found that personal touchpoints like phone calls and individual emails are most effective.

We strongly believe that now more than ever, the non-profit sector will play a crucial role in providing resources, programming, and support to all who have been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. We chose to share these tools with hopes that they can help others navigate the new world we are living in, prevent further harm to our health and economic systems, and start a path towards healing. Together, we can build a better world.

Skyler Badenoch is the CEO of Hope for Haiti, a nonprofit organization operating in southern Haiti. For the past 30 years, Hope for Haiti has been working to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly children, through its programs in education, healthcare, clean water, infrastructure, and economic advancement.

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