Martin Luther King, Jr., once famously said, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Rarely has that quote felt more apt than in this past year. And it’s not just “man” who was, and continues to be, faced with challenge and controversy, but entire organizations, too. The nonprofit sector has been stretched and tested in unfathomable ways over the past 12 months. At Envision, we’ve used our platforms, knowledge and time to serve the sector in new ways because we know our communities need strong nonprofits to thrive.
Information, Access to Experts, and a Sounding Board
We recognized when the pandemic lockdowns started last March that we were uniquely positioned as a source of information, perspective on how other organizations were dealing with the crisis, and basic reassurance and guidance. We quickly launched a weekly webinar series to tackle pressing (and ever-changing) questions and connect nonprofits with experts in HR, finance, legal services and more.
As the months went by, we broadened our webinars to address board recruitment, employee morale, mergers and other topics that were weighing on our nonprofit friends. We supplemented our webinar content with regular blogs on related topics.
By the summer, we knew the sector was hungry for data on how nonprofits were weathering the storm, so we conducted our 2020 Nonprofit Trends & Outlook survey to understand what nonprofits were experiencing and how they were planning for the future.
Watch Our Previous Webinars
Envision has long dreamed of starting a podcast, highlighting inspiring leaders in the nonprofit space. When the pandemic struck, so did the realization that now was the right time to finally launch. And thus, Nonprofit on the Rocks was born.
Our new podcast provides a great opportunity to a) give a platform to nonprofit leaders to raise awareness and recognition for the causes they hold dear, especially during the pandemic b) give listeners a chance to get to know the people behind the organizations, and c) allow Envision co-founder, Matt Kamin, to continue his beloved happy hour conversations with nonprofit leaders and foster a much-needed sense of community by allowing others to join in, too.
Listen to Our Latest Episodes
We’re proud of the critical resources, connections and information we provided to nonprofits during the past challenging year. But we know some of the most valuable ways we can support the people in nonprofits – staff, boards, volunteers – is by being available to listen and encourage, offering tips and feedback, and showing our support and appreciation for their dedication. At Envision, that’s part of who we are every day, and we’ve done our best to step up and serve in even bigger ways over the past year.
Seeking: Adaptable and Nimble Leaders and Plans
At the beginning of every executive search at Envision, we conduct a comprehensive survey to help us (and our client!) clearly understand the organization’s current situation and the ideal candidate for the role. Over the past year, we’ve observed a significant increase in the desire for candidates who are adaptable, skilled in risk management and change management, and possess a strategic mindset. We’ve responded by focusing our recruiting and interviewing efforts to find leaders with those strengths, so that our nonprofit clients are positioned for success and sustainability during this challenging time and for the road ahead.
We’re also seeing a wave of executive directors retiring in the sector. Some of these leaders had been planning their exits with their boards for years and might have accelerated their timelines, while others didn’t have a succession plan in place but decided the time was right to pass the baton to the next generation. Our team at Envision has ramped up our support for leadership transitions across a wide range of scenarios to provide continuity and a bridge to the next chapter.
In Envision’s strategy work, we doubled down on our beliefs that plans can’t be written in stone and good decisions are grounded in data. Last spring, we started working with all of our strategic planning clients to incorporate scenario planning and flexibility into multi-year plans being developed at the height of uncertainty. We also jumped in to facilitate tough decision making with staff and board leaders and provided the external perspectives and facts to help navigate the choices.
The two biggest trends we’ve seen in our strategy work over the past year are an increasing interest in mergers and other types of formal, long-term partnerships, as well as a huge step up on diversity, equity and inclusion across the sector. Envision already has a deep expertise in mergers and strategic restructuring, so we have been able to support clients exploring these opportunities and also offer our thoughts on best practices and pitfalls to help the sector as a whole. We’ve also long been committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through both our search and strategy engagements, so we’ve embraced the chance to learn more and help both our firm and our clients to push further and do more.
As we venture forward into 2021, it is with pride and optimism that we continue our work of helping those in the nonprofit world meet the demands and tackle the challenges of the future.