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Resilience in 2020

December 9, 2020

In fall 2018, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, along with fellow funders and the authors of this report, set out to study what it takes for nonprofits to survive and even thrive amid disruption, and to better understand how grantmakers can help grow this resilience. "Resilience" was defined as a nonprofit's ability to respond effectively to change and adapt successfully to new and unforeseen circumstances while staying true to mission. Ultimately, seven characteristics emerged as critical to organizational resilience, presented in the resulting report, Resilience at Work. None of the stressors profiled in the original study reached the magnitude of the multiple and interconnected crises that defined 2020 – the pandemic, the uprising for Black lives and racial justice, the economic downturn, the crescendo of natural disasters. The authors wanted to know: What does it take for nonprofits to be resilient in the face of the profound and far-reaching change and uncertainty that no organization was immune from in 2020? Can nonprofits bounce back better equipped to weather future crises? To find out, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation commissioned this update.

Resilience at Work: How Nonprofits Adapt to Disruption. How Funders Can Help.

April 10, 2020

Today and in the future, there is one thing social change leaders can be sure of: they will experience disruption, uncertainty, and significant change. Whether recovering from a hurricane, navigating global health concerns, responding to shifts in public policy, or regrouping after the departure of a top leader, nonprofits that get intentional about cultivating organizational resilience are better at anticipating and adapting to disruption.Resilience is critical for surviving these turbulent times. Nonprofit organizational resilience is the ability to respond effectively to change and adapt successfully to new and unforeseen circumstances while staying true to mission. At their best, resilient nonprofits respond to disruptions as tipping points, rather than tragedies, finding new opportunities to learn, grow, evolve, and, ultimately, better serve their communities.So, what does it take for nonprofits to survive and even thrive amid shocks? This research points to seven crucial characteristics, and surfaces principles and practices for funders who seek to boost grantee resilience.

Resilience at Work: How Nonprofits Adapt to Disruption. How Funders Can Help. (Executive Summary)

April 1, 2020

Today and in the future, there is one thing social change leaders can be sure of: they will experience disruption, uncertainty, and significant change. Whether recovering from a hurricane, navigating global health concerns, responding to shifts in public policy, or regrouping after the departure of a top leader, nonprofits that get intentional about cultivating organizational resilience are better at anticipating and adapting to disruption.Resilience is critical for surviving these turbulent times. Nonprofit organizational resilience is the ability to respond effectively to change and adapt successfully to new and unforeseen circumstances while staying true to mission. At their best, resilient nonprofits respond to disruptions as tipping points, rather than tragedies, finding new opportunities to learn, grow, evolve, and, ultimately, better serve their communities.So, what does it take for nonprofits to survive and even thrive amid shocks? This research points to seven crucial characteristics, and surfaces principles and practices for funders who seek to boost grantee resilience.

Philanthropy and Global Threats: Lessons From an Ambitious Experiment

December 18, 2017

In 2008, Jeff Skoll set out to test whether a limited-life organization with $100 million and a band of driven and skillful "threat-ologists" could make progress against five of the gravest threats to humanity—climate change, pandemics, water security, nuclear proliferation, and conflict in the Middle East. After spending down the original $100 million gift, the SGTF experiment is now coming to an end. However, Jeff Skoll's philanthropy and commitment to global threats will continue. The work is being reorganized, spun out, and unified with Jeff's core philanthropic enterprise, the Skoll Foundation.

Catalyzing Networks for Social Change

October 24, 2011

Explains how funders can "catalyze" networks to address complex, interconnected issues: weave social ties; access diverse perspectives; openly build and share knowledge; create infrastructure for widespread engagement; and coordinate resources and action.

Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks

April 5, 2011

Based on surveys and interviews, explores how network-centric practices will affect citizen engagement and community information, with case studies and scenarios for 2015. Offers grantmakers suggestions, tips, and tools for supporting networks for good.

What If? The Art of Scenario Thinking for Nonprofits

July 1, 2004

Gives an overview of scenario thinking customized for a nonprofit audience. Outlines the basic phases of scenario development, and provides examples and advice for putting the process into practice. Includes an annotated bibliography of select readings.