Nonprofits Coming In From the Cold

Last week, I finished a six-month project with a performing arts nonprofit that had bravely fought its way through the depths of the pandemic and come out the other side. It emerged stronger and more vital than ever.

Survival was no small feat, and it was particularly tough for the performing arts as theaters shuttered and event spaces closed with no idea if or when they would be able to open again.

With their small creative and administrative team, this nonprofit rallied, refusing to give in to the paralysis that threatened their more than thirty years of acclaimed productions and immersive work with underrepresented communities in prisons and schools.

As the world went dark in 2020, the choices were few: shut down and wait it out or mobilize their limited resources to pivot into the digital age. That meant figuring out how to perform and engage online; how to quickly adopt new ways of providing meaningful experiences to their program participants in innovative but unfamiliar formats.

Instead of falling victim to a “wait and see” strategy, this organization saw the reordering of the world as a time of opportunity and reinvention.

As we move cautiously into whatever post-pandemic era lies ahead, nonprofits need time to reflect on lessons learned. Strategies, channels, tactics, and budgets will be radically different than they were “before.” So much of what we thought was bulletproof has changed. The more perceptive, inquisitive, and agile nonprofits can be going forward, the more impact they will have in this brave new world we find ourselves in.