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Keys to Nonprofit Success in Complex Times

Creativity and resilience are critical to achieving your goals


The multiple, inextricably related crises of 2020 confirmed that nonprofits are invaluable to our society. Throughout the pandemic, charitable organizations adapted in order to provide much-needed support, including innovations in health care and access to food security. In addition, nonprofits across the sector responded to calls for racial justice with compassion and courage.


This historic moment revealed many keys to nonprofit success. The lessons learned will help leaders prepare for unknown future disruptions, as well as enhancing their ability to advance their missions even in complex times.

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The learnings and best practices below have been gleaned from organizations who not only survived but thrived in 2020, with a focus on operations, communications, fundraising, finances, and leadership.

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Times of uncertainty are unnerving, but organizations with existing plans in place are better positioned to weather them. Nimbleness is important, but equally so is acting in a measured, thoughtful way. Making extreme changes to organizational structure, your endowment model or your staffing can result in potentially unnecessary or unintended future consequences. Organizations caught off-guard by a disruption can take immediate steps to adjust, reduce expenses, leverage partnerships and continue fundraising efforts. Thinking carefully and leveraging your board’s and financial advisor’s expertise can provide continuity in a complex time.


Contact your advisor to learn more.

Fleming Glennon, Margie. “Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak: Resources to Help Nonprofits.” Published March 12, 2020, page retrieved March 14, 2020.

Gibson, Sara. “Coronavirus Advice for Nonprofit Leaders.” Published March 9, 2020, page retrieved March 13, 2020.

2018 Bank of America® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

Streiff, Justin. “Coronavirus and fundraising: don’t change anything.” Published March 11, 2020, page retrieved March 13, 2020.

Gibson, Sara. “Coronavirus Advice for Nonprofit Leaders.” Published March 9, 2020, page retrieved March 13, 2020.


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