October 20, 2020
How are Nonprofits Evolving in the Midst of a Pandemic?
Three local nonprofits share their strategies for staying on mission — in spite of unprecedented challenges

by Shari Finnell, editor, Not-for-Profit News

With Indiana approaching its ninth month of a deadly pandemic and another surge in cases, local nonprofit organizations are continuing to explore what it means to adapt. While many have implemented major changes, including virtual programming, facility modifications and alternative staffing, some are poised to evolve even further to accommodate a greater post-pandemic demand for services — both virtual and in-house.

As three local nonprofit leaders recently shared, nonprofits may need to continue to evolve for the foreseeable future as COVID-19 permanently reshapes how organizations operate.

Medical clinic adapts as more people lose jobs, insurance

Heart and Soul Free Clinic, a nonprofit that provides healthcare to the underserved, never considered shutting its doors as a viable option when COVID-19 reached Indiana in March 2020. The team was concerned that the population they served would be left without alternatives than emergency care. 

“Our biggest concern was the need to stay open,” recalled Lisa Kreag, executive director of the clinic, which is based in Westfield, Ind.. “A lot of the people we see are marginalized, low-income individuals. If our patients aren’t able to get to the doctor here, they don't have other outlets. And we didn’t think ER was the greatest option because of the potential of exposure. We didn’t understand much about the virus at that time.”

The pandemic’s ultimate impact has yet to be seen, according to Kreag. With more and more people losing their jobs and, as a consequence, their health insurance, the clinic is now serving an increasing number of people. “We;re getting a lot of new patients and our costs are definitely increasing,” said Kreag, noting that the costs for lab work and prescriptions, which are covered by the clinic, are steadily increasing.

Another challenge was ensuring that the clinic had adequate numbers of volunteers to support its mission. Before the pandemic, a significant number of the clinic’s volunteers were retirees — an age group that already had been identified at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 complications.

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Engaging with donors virtually: lessons learned from a pandemic
by Andy Canada, Senior Consultant and Director of Data Analytics, Johnson Grossnickle & Associates

As we search for positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic, we might note that our tech skills have improved, or maybe we’ve mastered a new way to do second-grade math. But, certainly, other lessons learned could have a longer shelf life, including unexpected opportunities to engage with donors and prospects or making adaptations on the fly that actually seem to work.

As necessity forced us to explore different ways to communicate and connect with one another, it is important to reflect on which ideas and practices have risen to the top. One thing is sure; large doses of flexibility and understanding have been required to navigate situations that seem to change by the minute — both in our professional and personal lives.

I recently hosted a webinar with Melanie Harmon, Senior VP of Advancement at Manchester College. The session, Frontline Fundraising and Events Go Virtual: A Look at Donor Engagement Techniques, explored some takeaways in our work with donors during the past few months. Here is an overview of some of those lessons, as well as a few ideas on how to incorporate them into the workplace in the coming months and years.

Within a few days of the onset of shelter-in-place mandates, most of us were stumbling our way into a new normal — adapting to juggling family obligations alongside work obligations as best we could. As the work of contacting donors resumed, many development staff members wondered how to check in with an appropriate mix of professionalism and concern.

Early Learning Indiana has named Jonathan Dilley chief of staff. He most recently served as chief talent officer and chief of staff at Indianapolis-based Project Lead The Way. — Inside Indiana Business
Indiana Donor Network has named Emily Kibling as manager of community development. Kibling previously served as an account director at Hirons, an agency based in Indianapolis. — Indianapolis Business Journal
Girl Scouts of Central Indiana has plans to launch a new community centric service model to provide greater support for members, volunteers, families, and communities within its 45-county footprint. Through this new two-pronged shift, the organization will save $312,000 annually that will then be reinvested back into the girls programming and camps. Read

Indiana INTERNnet is seeking nominations in the categories of Intern of the Year, Employer of the Year, Internship Supervisor of the Year and Career Development professional of the Year for its 15th Annual IMPACT Awards program. Nominate

Indy’s Best and Brightest, created by Junior Achievement of Central Indiana, is accepting applications to recognize up and coming talent and the next generation of leaders in our community. Nominate

Diaper Day 2020 has received more than 34,000 diapers for The Villages of Indiana’s state-wide diaper drive. Managed Health Services (MHS) provided a matching donation of $3,600, which contributed to an additional 15,175 diapers. More
Is your organization stuck on a no-growth plateau? Billy Shore teased out the key ingredients of nonprofit Share Our Strength’s success during a difficult economic period.
The Board’s #1 Challenge: Fundraising. It should no longer be a surprise that many nonprofit boards struggle to fulfill their fundraising responsibilities.
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