Catalyst - Fall 2020 Vol 3 No 1 - Page 11

on. The first thing that had to happen was the cancelling of a fundraising event which was scheduled at the end of March. These were critical conversations that needed to happen that, in regular day-to-day without a pandemic, things were slower, you were waiting for a board meeting or waiting for a committee meeting to have these conversations. But when you’re in crisis mode, you’re having a whole lot of conversations where you’re talking more with the staff and talking more with the board. The board committees have met a lot more frequently, obviously, with the fundraising committee now having to totally change how do we do events in this new normal. There is increased and very clear communication now about ‘this is our plan’. It’s so important in crisis communications. In nonprofits, I don’t have a crisis management team, but it’s about how you communicate a steady plan and calmness in the midst of chaos. Keeping people very steady and focused on the mission that we are here to do our mission, we are here to make sure that staff are safe, that patients are safe, and we’re going to take care of each other, making sure that they are communicating to the staff to take care of yourself and to take some time for yourself because this is a very hard time. When I think about EmpowerHealth, I think about this notion of succinct communications about what is our story, who we’re about, and now delivering that message in the midst of a pandemic and being very clear about how you communicate with the board, staff, your patients, stakeholders, funders, and the public about what you’re doing. Being aware of it is very helpful. From a fundraising standpoint, having to shift events, but also being clear about what are some opportunities for us. One of the opportunities that we saw was, while there were funding announcements that were coming out related to COVID-19 funding, we were really thinking about, ok well we know we want to do telehealth, so that’s important, but we really began to expand that view of that, and what would that look like. So, while we were always a sort of facilitator of resources and linking people to resources, we were never necessarily ones that actually gave out resources. What we began to think about and envision was: there is a space for us to do this because we are a trusted carebased organization. We work with so many women and families, so we began to do that type of resource work. How do you talk about health without talking about stabilizing households? Because when the household isn’t stable, that is related to health. It’s important for nonprofits to understand really who they are, having a great sense of what you uniquely offer to the community, and then how you leverage that to engage partners, engage donors, funders and implement purposeful work that cannot mission creep at all; but that can fill needed gaps during these challenging times. It’s been exciting, and it’s always good to have the opportunity to participate in things like the EmpowerHealth cohort where you are thinking at that 50,000 ft view about who you are as an organization, and about the infrastructure of the organization. It is helpful in times like this to change your mindset to have things that you can draw from, and I think it is easier to pivot when you’re looking at things more strategically and you have a broader sense of your organization and what your organization has to offer. 8 “In nonprofits, I don’t have a crisis management team, but it’s about how you communicate a steady plan and calmness in the midst of chaos.” -Jemea Dorsey CEO, Center for Black Women’s Wellness 11