Beyond Digital After COVID-19: Self-Assessment Questions

Nonprofits that continue to have the ability to build power and deliver impact a year from now will have avoided using this time to grasp for “digital” panaceas. Instead, they’ll have adopted and integrated new ways of planning, collaborating, and campaigning as standard operating procedures to reflect this more uncertain, complex world.

According to Michael Silberman, executive director of the Mobilisation Lab, and Hanna Thomas Uose, a principal consultant at Align, here are some questions for leaders and managers to help you come out of the Covid-19 crisis even stronger than before: 

  • What can you drop? It’s tempting to accelerate and add more tech-based programming. Keep in mind what you can sustain and build on and how you can make space within your current strategy for more digital offerings during the next three years, not just the next three months.
  • What can you do with what you have? You want to invest in a new email platform but perhaps your organization’s financial future is looking uncertain. There are bound to be things that you can improve upon based on what you already have — and which still lead to greater impact results. Could staff with more advanced digital skills train up others through skill shares? Can you pool resources with partners and share tools, such as volunteer platforms and trainings? Are there inefficiencies in your workflows that you can iron out? 
  • Which of your staff need extra attention right now? Digital staff often feel misunderstood and sidelined from bigger strategic conversations. But now the spotlight (and much of the workload) is on them. How can you better value or support your digital staff, both now and in the long term? 
  • Where can you reduce bottlenecks and simplify sign-offs? It’s hard enough to deal with bureaucracy in the same location let alone remotely. Consider training up more of your staff so they’re equipped to proof bulk emails and update WordPress on their own. 
  • What decisions and processes can you open up for more input from staff and volunteers? Leaders are overloaded right now with scenario planning and funding considerations. What can you break off and delegate? Doing this will incentivize more of your staff to step up in responsibility and be creative.
  • What’s your digital engagement wish list? What are your new funding requirements? The current crisis might have thrown your strategy and budget into sharp relief. Do you have the systems in place to organize remotely over the long haul? If not, what do you need, and how will you make the case to funders? 
  • Who is closer to the ground and might be able to do this better? Your organization is part of an ecosystem, and some groups might be better placed to do the work to which you’re planning to pivot. Do your research, speak to partners, and help funnel resources to them if you can. 

All of this is not simple to do, nor is every organization going to thrive. But according to Silberman and Thomas Uose, if your organization can use this time to move towards a culture that’s willing and able to regularly reassess strategy and be adaptive, you’ll have laid the foundations to be more effective in the years to come.