Planning for Coronavirus Disruption

Planning for Coronavirus Disruption

Do you have a contingency plan? 

Are you prepared for coronavirus disruption?

Talk about Covid-19, aka Coronavirus, is in the news, on our lips, in our social media feed, and on our minds.

It’s also on the minds of people running companies, preparing for when staff may be cut in half as the virus runs its course.

Is it on YOUR mind? 

It should be. Demand for your services may go up just as your staff is out sick. Attendance at exhibits and shows will decline. Staff will request working from home. Your special event may need to be cancelled.

This article in Inc. magazine focuses on how businesses are planning to cope with the disruption, but the message needs to be heard by nonprofits as well: Supply Stashes, Temperature Checks, and Coronavirus ‘Czars’: How Companies Are Preparing to Keep Employees Healthy and Business Strong

Now is the time for boards and executives to focus on how you will cope as the virus spreads. If it turns out you don’t need your contingency plan, that’s even better. And now you’ll have one for the future.

Do you have a contingency plan? Are you carving out time to plan for a potential epidemic? Share it! And if you see an article you think everyone should read, please send it on.

More eyes – more articles – more wisdom!

Susan Detwiler

Art Institutions and Arts

Art Institutions and Arts

Why It’s Important: Can Arts and Cultural Partners Help Anchor Institutions Find Their Soul?

Anchor institution? Small and scrappy arts organization? Can working together vitalize both?

Anchor institutions” are the major, long-standing nonprofit organizations. Hospitals, universities, United Way, community foundations. They work hard to be engines of growth for their communities, often buying from local and/or minority and/or women-owned businesses, re-purposing old buildings, employing more local individuals. Economic drivers.

But what about the arts?

This article from Non-Profit Quarterly shows that anchor institutions frequently ignore cultural-, social-, and community-based methods of building up the community. Meanwhile, arts and cultural institutions such as museums, artist groups and specialty theater groups, have been using non-economic methods for years.

Cultural institutions – especially smaller, younger ones — also struggle to revitalize their communities while avoiding gentrification.

In the words of the author, “with an explicit equity focus, this result can be avoided.” Anchor institutions and cultural institutions can learn from each other.

Regardless of which kind of nonprofit you are – a large, anchor institution or a cultural institution – if one of your strategic goals is to build a stronger, vital community, this article has food for thought.

If a you want to have a board session to assess your role in revitalization – or any other aspect of planning — please let me know. I’m happy to talk.

Watch for more posts about important articles. If you see an article you think everyone should read, please send it on. Or if you want to talk about facilitation, governance or planning for your organization, I’d love to have that conversation.

More eyes – more articles – more wisdom!

-Susan Detwiler

Why It’s Important: Libraries Scrap Late Fees

Why It’s Important: Libraries Scrap Late Fees

I love Erin Rubin’s article in Nonprofit Quarterly: Libraries, in a Move for Equity, Scrap Late Fees.

First, because I have an affinity for libraries and I love watching them evolve with the times.

Second, because it has an important message for every nonprofit:

Are you living your mission?

“At their midwinter meeting in 2019, the American Library Association issued a resolution stating “the imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services,” and recommended that libraries “move towards actively eliminating them.”

Late fees are antithetical to the mission of a public library. Late fees are a barrier to providing free and open access for all patrons, especially to low income individuals.

It’s an interesting innovation for libraries with a profound message for all nonprofits.

When was the last time you looked at your processes and procedures to see if they fit with your mission? What are you doing as ‘business as usual,’ that is actually at odds with the impact you want to have?

You can use this example from libraries across the United States to introduce the idea to your board and staff. What are WE doing out of habit or ‘received wisdom’ that we should eliminate or change?

If this article has provoked some thought, please let me know. If you bring it up to your staff or board, I’d love to hear how it’s received.

And if another article has caught your eye and made you think, pass it on.

More eyes, more wisdom.

Susan Detwiler

Why It’s Important: Can Artists-in-Residence Build Creativity in the Public Sector?

Why It’s Important: Can Artists-in-Residence Build Creativity in the Public Sector?

I don’t know how to use the information in this Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) article. But it’s intriguing enough that I wanted to bring it to YOUR attention.

Local Government Artist-in-Residence Programs Must Include Opportunities for Public Sector Innovation.

The premise is that having artists at the table enhances the work of civil servants, policy makers and public sector employees. Policies and programs can be more innovative by having creatives participate in developing them.

The authors suggest that governments move the “artist-in-residence” concept away from the narrow field of a particular medium. Instead, have them use their creativity to develop new ways of looking at ideas and projects.

The rapid change of society requires creative responses.

As I read the article, I started thinking about how this could be applied to nonprofits of all kinds. Can bringing artists onto the board bring another level of creativity to planning? And even though many arts and cultural institutions are founded by creative people, they may stray too far from the origins and remove all artists from the board. And the rapid change of society needs creative responses.

This is an article worth reading and musing about. I hope you agree.

Susan Detwiler

Why It’s Important: The Fear of Ceding Control

Why It’s Important: The Fear of Ceding Control

Strengthening boards is an ongoing task. Acknowledging what needs to be done is only the first step.

As Martin Levine asks in NP Quarterly, Diversifying Boards Means Ceding Control – Are White Nonprofit Leaders Ready? It’s an important question, because all the best intentions can be stymied by unconscious fear and discomfort.

Boards react to the realization — or accusations — of a lack of diversity by adding new and ‘different’ board members. Then they wonder why these individuals leave.

Creating a board that reflects the community can’t be the first step. Planning is crucial.

Anticipate that board dynamics may need to change. If you generally govern by consensus, how will you foster the diversity of opinions and ideas that a more diverse board will bring? How will you give the new voices as much weight as the voices of returning board members? How will you include the newer board members in substantive committees, and educate the chairs on dealing with those they might perceive as ‘disrupters’?

Create the conditions for success.

Acknowledge that board dynamics – and control – may need to change, and consider these questions before bringing on new and ‘different’ board members.

Want to talk about having these conversations? Get in touch and we can see what it means for YOUR organization.

And if you see an article that you think it’s important, send it on so we can all benefit from your thoughts. More eyes, more sharing, more knowledge all around!

Susan Detwiler