• Pat Libby

Nonprofit Crisis or Opportunity?

Updated: Nov 20


The other day I read a quote from Henry Timms – the President/CEO of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts – that knocked me off my feet.

He said that during the pandemic, the organization has been asking itself:

“How can we be of service? What is it we can be doing with resources and the talent we represent?”

and, how can we use “this very challenging moment … to accelerate… and prioritize some things that… might have taken longer to get to the top of our priority list.”

To answer those questions, he and other Lincoln Center leaders determined that “The place to start is actually being a lot more genuinely connected to communities.”

For them that meant opening up their building as a polling place for the recent election, helping with the census, offering all-faith concerts to memorialize people who had died from Covid-19, and hosting free pickup truck concerts around New York City among many other things.

It’s a wonderful example of how an arts organization reimagined its work to have impact and meaning for people who might not otherwise have known about it or accessed its resources.

That type of strategic realignment requires out-of-the-box, bold thinking which is needed more than ever during these uncertain and frightening times.

It builds upon Simon Sinek’s famous “Why” to ask “Given our resources, what we stand for, and what is happening in the world, how can we make an impact?”

It gets to the roots of our nonprofitness – to be of service – and makes us ask the hard questions that will spark and inspire new thinking from our shell-shocked minds.

We can’t hide from the pandemic.

We can’t wish it away.

But we can think differently – very differently – about how we envision making an impact on the world.

Like butterflies emerging from chrysalis, the pandemic gives us an opportunity to rethink and reinvent our work, to reexamine our business model, and to look at who are and how we serve our customers.

The time for both short term and long-term strategic thinking is NOW.

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Pat Libby is a consultant that helps nonprofits with organizational strategy, board restructuring, and executive searches. Pat has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations.

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