Leading in Times of Hyper Change

Posted in News Story

By Luisa Boyarski, Ph.D.

March 13, 2020

Historically, the nonprofit sector has played an important leadership role during times of crisis—providing services for expanding populations in need, advocating for critical policy responses, and supporting communities confronted by racism and xenophobia.

As the sector faces the uncertainty of the spread of COVID-19, nonprofit leaders are faced with the challenge of responding to “hyper change”. It seems like every day, if not every hour, decisions out of our control are being made that influence how we work, how we live, and how we interact with others. Change is challenging to address, especially when we don’t have information about three key factors:

  • Timing/pace of change
  • Scope of change
  • Impact of change

This lack of information can result in hesitancy and even panic during a time when nonprofit organizations need to lead with thoughtful, precise actions.

The Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership is launching a series of articles, Leading in Times of Hyper Change, that will provide strategies and guidance for nonprofit leaders and their organizations during this time of uncertainty. Drawing on the expertise of our Center’s staff and faculty in our Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program, we will help you determine how to make good decisions today that will keep your organization strong in the future.

The current pace of change can be daunting. As waves of decisions are made within our ecosystems—travel bans, school closings, states of emergency, etc.—it feels like we are constantly adapting to the now, with no time to think strategically about our current and future capacity. We will discuss how to respond to the possibilities of decreased funding and when to use operating reserves to maintain program continuity. We will suggest strategies for supporting your staff, managing your partnerships, and delivering on your mission during this time of change.

Finally, it is important to consider what we have learned from previous experiences with change and whether those lessons are relevant to our current state of hyper change. Two articles to review are The Lessons of 9/11 Philanthropy, a Decade Later and Outrun the Recession: Seven tips for surviving the economic downturn.

We hope you will check back often for new articles and links to resources about leading in this time of hyper change. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we will post new articles in the series.

Current articles in the series include: