Unshakeable Leadership in the Eye of a Storm

Emily H. Benham | CEO, NLC Tips

Hurricanes are something I’ve come to accept as part of living in Florida. While there is plenty of uncertainty in tracking their trajectory, we typically know when we’ll be affected by a storm. We can put together our emergency supply kits, find a safe place to stay or evacuate. Today, we find ourselves in what feels like a Category 5 hurricane that refuses to weaken. We don’t know if it will pass quickly and leave us unscathed or destroy everything we’ve come to know. How do we as nonprofit leaders stand in the eye of the storm and remain calm without getting swept up in it? That’s the question Kashi Atlanta founder Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati recently asked during a webinar I attended by the Independent Sector on how to maintain an unshakable presence in turbulent times.

I’ve been thinking about the question and her guidance a lot during the past few weeks. The word unshakeable is defined as utterly firm and unwavering, not possible to weaken, too strong to be changed or destroyed. In a world where everything around us feels like it’s being shaken to its core, nonprofit missions and leadership must remain unshakeable. Here are three things I took away from Swami Jaya Devi’s advice that can help all of us stay unshakeable as we weather the current storm.

Unshakeable leadership in turbulent times | Nonprofit Leadership Center

Nonprofit leaders are social change warriors.

In the day-to-day flurry of mitigating revenue loss, managing virtual teams, pivoting to find new grant money and supporting the communities we serve, it can be easy to forget that you are making a difference. But you are. Nonprofit leaders and organizations are social change warriors. Our communities rely on nonprofits, and our sector is doing remarkable things to help individuals and families endure this crisis. The days may be long and the anxiety may be high, but what you are doing today will have a profound impact on our collective ability to thrive long after this storm passes.

READ NEXT: Local Nonprofits Remain Courageous Amid COVID-19

With a pandemic comes new possibilities.

In her talk, Swami Jaya Devi reminded me that we can find meaning in the most unlikely of places, including a crisis. Unprecedented times also allow for unprecedented possibilities. During the past two months, I’ve witnessed nonprofit teams adapt more quickly and creatively than at any time in my career. We have learned that we can work in new and different ways and that programs or processes that may have worked in the past simply will not work in the days ahead. While anxiety continues to heighten, social connections bring calm and clarity. When leaders come together for the common good and bring their collective ideas and strengths to the table, albeit virtually, anything is possible.

Say no to “not enoughness.”

Uncertainty breeds all kinds of feelings, including anxiety, pressure, trauma and fear. In times of uncertainty, it can be easy to fall back on what Swami Jay Devi refers to as scarcity thinking, or the concept of “not enoughness.” It’s the thought process of consistently asking ourselves if we’re doing enough — for our families, our teams, our nonprofits, our community. Am I enough? Are we doing enough? I know I’ve been asking myself these things on a daily basis.

To all the nonprofit leaders out there, I have an important reminder for you:

You are enough.

You are doing the best you can, and what you are doing is making a difference.

You are strong and you are resilient.

Together, we’ve got this!

READ NEXT: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion in Times of Crisis

Resources

Webinar: Unshakeable Presence in Turbulent Times | Independent Sector

14 Practices for the Pandemic from Kashi Atlanta

Free Webinars to Help Your Nonprofit Through the Pandemic

Local Nonprofits Continue to Show Courageous Leadership in Times of Crisis

Team NLC Stories

When communities are in crisis, nonprofit organizations are here to help. As a nonprofit that supports other nonprofits, the Nonprofit Leadership Center has been shining a spotlight on the courage, leadership, nimbleness and resiliency of Tampa Bay nonprofit leaders and organizations. This week, we’re pleased to share stories from seven organizations that are helping strengthen our community — and us all.

Palm River Family Services

Palm River Family Services is a nonprofit organization that serves families of children ages 14 years and younger at Clair Mel and Palm River Elementary Schools. When the coronavirus led to school closures, Program Coordinator Chelsea Lee and Family Support Specialist Lazara Hernandez didn’t skip a beat. They operate the organization’s Go-4-Kids after-school educational enrichment programs and immediately started providing fun, engaging educational activity sessions to enrolled students via Facebook Live. They called all families and explained that every Monday through Thursday students could log in and participate. They created and delivered educational kits with paper, markers, pencils, crayons and other materials to the children’s homes. Each Friday, they also deliver activity kits for the following week’s sessions so the children have the materials they need to follow along with a STEAM learning activity.

Photo from Palm River Family Services: Tampa Bay Nonprofits Help Community through COVID-19 Crisis

Children earn points if they like a post, make a comment or send a picture of their work, and points earn them a raffle ticket. At the end of each week, one child wins a basket of goodies, which has boosted participation rates.

In addition to the online learning activities, Palm River Family Services has hosted a Feeding Tampa Bay mobile food pantry every Friday for the community. They have served between 132 and 160 cars each week, with some cars getting food for multiple families. If families can’t attend the food pantry, they deliver food to their homes.

“Our staff has worked tirelessly and endlessly to make sure our students get to keep a familiar schedule and are taken care of both academically and socially/emotionally. Their live educational enrichment program has become so popular that we’ve had other families contact us to see if their children could receive the materials to participate, and we have honored those requests.”

Valerie Smirlock, Executive Director, Palm River Family Services

High Risk Hope

High Risk Hope is a local nonprofit that supports families hospitalized for months surrounding the premature birth of a child, delivering the hope and essential items families need to survive their hospital stay. With the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changing hospital visitation policies for moms on hospital bed rest and with premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), High Risk Hope has had to shift their highly personalized hospital visits to real-time virtual support. As such, the organization recently launched its first High Risk Hope Huddle for hospitalized high-risk obstetric patients and NICU parents via GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting offers a HIPPA-compliant meeting platform that is easily accessible for families via their cell phone, tablet or computer. The Huddles connect moms and families so they may share their unique journeys together, leaning on one another for support.

High Risk Hope volunteers who sew and knit baby blankets and hats for NICU babies started sewing much-needed masks for the hospital units the organization supports. To date, the organization has donated hundreds of masks to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, Tampa General Hospital’s Antepartum Unit and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. High Risk Hope has also partnered with Berkeley Preparatory School to make 3D printed reusable masks for St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.

Photo from High Risk Hope: Tampa Bay Nonprofits Help Community through COVID-19 Crisis

Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

To keep families connected and girls learning while schools and in-person activities are on hold, the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida recently held a Virtual STEMapalooza event. It was open to all families, not just those who have Girl Scout members. The event was so popular that the webpage was viewed by visitors in 48 states and 17 countries.

Photo from Girl Scouts of West Central Florida: Tampa Bay Nonprofits Help Community through COVID-19 Crisis

“We did this as a troop on Zoom. We loved watching the atmospheric pressure and the egg going into the bottle. That got the best reaction! The chromatography was pretty cool, and we also liked the hair/fiber and handwriting analysis. We have to go back and watch the fingerprint analysis and have some new cool sites to continue to check out.”

Parent participant

Women Centered 4 Success

Photo from Women Centered 4 Success: Tampa Bay Nonprofits Help Community through COVID-19 Crisis

Women Centered 4 Success is a nonprofit organization that supports women by equipping, encouraging and empowering them with tools and services to achieve personal growth, housing, jobs, youth services and health care for a better life. The organization formed a sewing circle of four volunteers who, using their personal supplies, made 65 washable masks for the neighbors in the Blessed Sacrament Community Center area to distribute to families who do not have access to them.

“We plan to order supplies for our sewing circle to continue their work making washable masks to be given to at least 400 teachers once the Hillsborough County Schools reopen.”

Sheila Lewis, Executive Director, Women Centered 4 Success

Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City

The Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City is a faith-baased nonprofit organization serving women in Plant City. To help clients during the COVID-19 crisis, they have been providing essential baby items like diapers, baby wipes and formula to those in need through curbside pickup.

Photo from Pregnancy Care Center of Plant City: Tampa Bay Nonprofits Help Community through COVID-19 Crisis

Foundation for Community Driven Innovation

The Foundation for Community Driven Innovation (FCDI) is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting academic achievement, economic development and the spirit of innovation through inspiring programs and active learning projects. Their AMRoC Fab Lab, located in University Mall in Tampa, is working in partnership with a local Department of Defense engineer running a volunteer PPE project called MRG 3D. AMRoC is coordinating a volunteer 3D Printing Brigade, helping produce thousands of face shields a week requested by area hospitals and health care workers.

Photo from the FOundation for Community Driven Innovation: Tampa Bay Nonprofits Help Community through COVID-19 Crisis

“Our volunteer hub now has 20 volunteers operating nearly 50 personal, small business and academic 3D printers, including printers at AMRoC and in addition to MRG 3Ds 14 onsite printers. With support from the United Way, the CEL, private donors and in-kind contributors, the project will continue to operate as long as needed to provide stop gap PPE for health professionals on the front lines who are keeping us safe during the pandemic.”

Terri Willingham, The Foundation for Community Driven Innovation

Lutheran Services Florida

Lutheran Services Florida Adult Advocacy Program in Sarasota continues to make a difference in the lives of families, even during the global COVID-19 crisis. A couple in Sarasota who are suffering with dementia and other mental illness were discovered by their daughter to be residing in a home with no water, electricity, food or phone access. She assisted in getting utilities back on and food in the home but resides out of state and needed a longer-term solution for their safety and well-being. A referral was made to Lutheran Services Florida Adult Advocacy Program. The organization was able to gain guardianship of the couple and is assisting in managing their finances and hiring caregivers for them until they can be transitioned safely to an assisted living facility after the pandemic is over. Their daughter is in regular contact with the case manager and involved in decision making but was able to return home out of state, knowing they are properly cared for.

See more stories of hope and how local nonprofits are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.


Share Your Story

Do you have a positive nonprofit story you’d like to share with our community? Tell us about it here.


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Motivating and Engaging Employees Virtually

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

COVID-19 has introduced managers and supervisors to new challenges as we strive to keep virtual teams motivated, engaged and connected. Our new reality has required us to stretch ourselves beyond our limits and outside our comfort zones, figuratively and literally.

Research suggests that the most important aspect of keeping employees engaged is making them feel part of the bigger picture. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true – a lack of engagement can lead to increased feelings of isolation and disconnection. In this video, NLC trainer and organizational culture expert Margarita Sarmiento shares how managers can engage and motivate employees in this virtual working environment.

After watching, you will:

  • Learn about three critical areas affecting team morale and motivation
  • Understand specific ways to engage team members and strengthen relationships
  • Uncover new ways to help transition team members as roles continue to change

READ NEXT: Tips for Working from Home More Effectively

Resources Referenced in the Video


Download the presentation shared in the video

Supervisor Tips & Tools for Motivating Remote Staff to Stay Engaged and Productive

Starting the COVID-19 Recovery Conversation Today

52 Virtual Team Building Activities

Free Online Ivy League Classes

ITK Consultants Website

More COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits


COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely in Uncertain Times

WATCH: Managing Uncertainty Amid Crisis

WATCH: DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

WATCH: How to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety

WATCH: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion

WATCH: Position Your Nonprofit for Long-Term Success


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Is Your Nonprofit Prepared for Digital Fundraising Success?

Jessica Dvoracsek, NLC Fellow Tips

Online giving has grown 10% during the past three years (Blackbaud). As social distancing and COVID-19 prevent nonprofits from traditional fundraising events and in-person activities, mastering your digital fundraising is critical — today and every day. These digital fundraising tips from Nonprofit Leadership Center trainer and fundraising expert Sara Leonard will help your organization remain financially strong for long-term success.

Digital Fundraising Tips | Nonprofit Leadership Center

1. Your Why Must Be Your Rallying Cry

Regardless of whether your organization is fundraising through traditional events or online, people give for one of two reasons — to save lives or change lives. This needs to be at the heart of all your communications and digital tactics at every level of the fundraising cycle. Whether you’re hosting a Facebook fundraiser or a traditional gala, your mission should be at the center of your messaging.

Ensure the why behind what you do is clear on your website and donation form. Think about what your donors are seeing and make it easy to understand why you need their support and how their contributions make a difference. Whenever and wherever possible, make it less about your organization and more about how their impact saves and changes lives.

2. Digital fundraising is not social media.

Social media is designed to connect people through the Internet and technology. Digital fundraising is reaching out to donors across all digital channels through the entire fundraising continuum — from cultivating relationships to activating their engagement to reporting back on success and progress as a partner. It includes your website, email, online giving platforms and social media. Digital fundraising isn’t just about making asks online. It’s about the entire fundraising cycle. Do not be the estranged cousin that you only hear from when you need money.

3. Share more than you ask.

Although digital fundraising is not just about social media, people are spending more time on social than ever before. Being present and part of the conversation is critical, but not just to make asks. Balance your content using the 80/20 rule — share valuable content 80% of the time and make asks or calls to action related to your mission only 20% of the time. Social media is about cultivating relationships, so make sure you’re doing that. For instance, you could introduce your staff, take them behind the scenes, share content or tips from partners, etc.

4. Go where your audience is.

When choosing social media outlets in which to have a presence, be active on the channels where your audiences are, and prioritize those that are driving the most engagement and website traffic. Do not try to move your audience to a platform that you are most comfortable with. For example, if your audience is most active on Twitter, be sure to focus on Twitter. If you have an audience that is highly focused in the professional space, LinkedIn will be more appropriate than Snapchat or TikTok. If you aren’t sure where to begin, research similar organizations to learn from your peers about what’s working or not working.

5. Make your website the hub.

In the wheel of digital tools, your website should be the center where all spokes extend. Across all your digital communications activities — from social media posts to emails — you want to drive audiences back to your website, whether to offer valuable content and resources or to drive action. Be sure that your site is optimized for mobile since 26% of online donations come directly from mobile devices.

6. Give your board a megaphone.

Digital fundraising and communications are a great way to get your board involved. Keep them updated on what your organization is doing and ask them to share your messages within their own networks of influence to extend your reach. There are different levels of engagement based on their interest and capacity — from simply sharing a message or ask from your organization with their personal point of view, to recording and sharing a video or hosting a Facebook fundraiser.

READ NEXT: 10 Ways to Mitigate Fundraising Loss During Times of Crisis


To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram

Maintaining Morale While Leading Virtual Teams

Margarita Sarmiento Tips

Social distancing and working from home have scattered our workforces, pushing many of us outside our comfort zones and creating entirely new ways to work and communicate. For those responsible for leading virtual teams, maintaining employee morale and motivation is critical as staff members feel increasingly isolated.

Whether in times of normalcy or uncertainty, the most crucial aspect of keeping employees engaged is making them feel valued, helping them understand their role within the bigger picture and minimizing their isolation. Experts tell us that regular communication and shared identity within a team can mediate the effects of physical separation.

Be sure to address these three areas to maintain team morale and motivation while leading virtual teams.

Maintaing Morale While Leading Virtual Teams | Nonprofit Leadership Center

1. Communication

Both formal and informal communication methods are being challenged in today’s virtual workplace. We must work a little harder to share what we’re thinking and what we need from one another. Frequent remote meetings with team members are critical in any off-site arrangement, but don’t forget the importance of casual conversations to strengthen relationships between team members.

  • Schedule video meetings whenever possible, one-on-one and as a team. The face-to-face connection goes a long way toward strengthening commitment and accountability.
  • Make time for informal conversations. Don’t be afraid of casual chit-chat or catching up. Team members who typically work in an office need an opportunity for “hallway” conversations to happen virtually.
  • Be clear and concise in written communications. Employees who are used to in-person discussions to review projects and important topics may now be communicating with colleagues electronically. Encourage your team to proofread their emails — not just for spelling and grammar, but for tone and content. 

READ NEXT: 4 Simple Strategies to Strengthen Team Communications at Work

2. Connection

Authentic relationships and transparency among leaders and team members are foundational to strong, healthy organizational cultures. As a manager, one of your primary responsibilities is to create a sense of community with your staff. Distance makes connection a bit harder to achieve, but not impossible.  

  • Make meetings fun. Take time to break up the monotony of the virtual, flat-screen meeting. Start a meeting with show and tell, a trivia game, ice breaker or scavenger hunt (first one back with a cooking utensil, stuffed animal, funny hat, pet, vacation souvenir, baby picture) … the possibilities are endless!
  • Arrange extracurricular virtual team activities, such as cooking classes, yoga or coffee breaks. Mail ingredients to make s’mores and have a virtual campfire. Create casual learning opportunities through virtual lunch and learns and TED Talks.
  • Take time during staff meetings to check-in. Ask your team, “What are you reading? …cooking? …watching? …making?” and allow them to share learnings.

Creating opportunities for connection are even more critical for employees who may be working remotely for the first time. Treating them the same as those who are accustomed to working from home may unintentionally disconnect them even more. Unlike a typical remote employee, our shelter-in-place workforce did not choose their current situation. They did not have the opportunity to plan for and establish a separate and distinct work area, and the “mothership” they’re accustomed to is gone … or at least suspended in space. Carving out time to help them adjust and remind them of their value will strengthen connections as they navigate what may feel like chaos.

3. Commitment 

Employee engagement has always been the key to a committed, productive workforce, and team morale and motivation are directly linked to people’s perceived feelings of value. When leading virtual teams, managers must engage employees a little differently. You may have to ask more questions or be more specific in reminding staff of their organizational worth. Now is the time to be intentional about connecting your people to their purpose.

  • Allow people to share their successes, especially the small ones that may not make weekly or monthly reports.
  • Ensure your team has what they need. Be available. Touch base regularly and often. Clarify expectations and deadlines. Follow up and follow through with your commitments. Remember that without the regular interruptions and distractions of the office, people are more focused on their tasks. The longer they are seemingly waiting on you, the more frustrated they may become.
  • Use this time as an opportunity to invite your team members to learn new things by attending virtual trainings. This will reinforce and increase their value to the organization.

As you lead virtual teams, focusing on organizational communication, connection and commitment will enable your nonprofit team to not only survive times of uncertainty, but to thrive moving forward.

READ NEXT: How to Break Bad Habits at Work


Margarita Sarmiento has more than 25 years of management, training and facilitation experience in professional development, team building, leadership, organizational planning, board development, cross-cultural communication and diversity. She has worked in corporate management and training with Progressive Companies, Busch Entertainment Corporation and the National Conference for Community & Justice — Tampa Bay. She’s also an active trainer and facilitator for NLC.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Recipes from Team NLC

Team NLC Tips

No Cinco de Mayo would be complete without the perfect dish to celebrate the occasion. Our very own Fundraising and Marketing Fellow Jessica Dvoracsek shares her family’s favorite nacho and guacamole recipe to help you celebrate at home this year.

Nachos for Nonprofit Leaders

Ingredients

  • 6 mini peppers
  • Tortilla chips
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1.5 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • ½ c. shredded cheese
  • ¼ red onion, minced
  • ½ jalapeno (optional)
  • Cilantro
  • ½ lime

Guacamole that Gives Back

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ jalapeno (optional)
  • ½ c. cilantro
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a sheet pan with foil.  Spray the pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Wash and cut the mini peppers in half. Lay the peppers on one half of the prepared pan, insides facing up. Spread the tortilla chips on the remaining half of the pan.
  3. Brown the beef in a pan on the stove. Drain meat and mix in chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste).  Add ¼ c. water to the pan and cook until sauce begins to thicken slightly.
  4. Spoon the meat over the peppers and chips and top with jalapeno, red onion and shredded cheese.
  5. Bake for 7-10 minutes until the cheese is melty.
  6. Once out of the oven, top with chopped cilantro and lime juice.

While the nachos are cooking, make the guacamole:

  1. Cut two avocados in half, remove pit and skin, and place into bowl.
  2. Mince red onion, garlic, jalapeno (if using) and place into bowl.
  3. Mix well, while mashing the avocado.
  4. Zest the lime (a key to this recipe!) and add to the guacamole. Add in the juice of an entire lime, the chopped cilantro and mix again.
  5. Salt to taste.

Enjoy!

7 Tips for a Successful #GivingTuesdayNow Campaign

Jesica D'Avanza, MPA, APR Tips

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact individuals, families, businesses and communities, demands for nonprofit services are on the rise. But with social distancing requirements and cancelled fundraising events, many nonprofits are struggling to survive. #GivingTuesdayNow — scheduled for May 5, 2020 — was created as a new global day of giving to help nonprofits raise emergency funds to support COVID-19 relief efforts. This day is in addition to the regularly scheduled #GivingTuesday that follows Thanksgiving each year.

How should your nonprofit participate in #GivingTuesdayNow to achieve maximum impact? These #GivingTuesdayNow tips will help you craft communications that inspire donors to support your mission now.

#GivingTuesdayNow tips

1. Make it about them, not you.
In the midst of a crisis, it’s easy to focus on what your organization needs to keep its lights on and continue operating. But donors don’t give because of your organizational fundraising goals or operational needs; they give because they want to help real people in your community. As you craft your #GivingTuesdayNow communications, lead with your audience, not your organization. Elevate the individuals, families and communities that depend on you and the life-changing impact your work will have on their lives and livelihoods. Ask your donors and supporters to help them. Including first-person messages and appeals directly from those who have benefitted from your organization can be particularly helpful to paint a clear picture of your impact during this time. Be transparent and detailed about how you will use COVID-19 relief funds to support your community.

READ NEXT: 10 Ways to Mitigate Fundraising Loss in Uncertain Times

2. Approach your donors and supporters as partners.
Rather than begging donors for their support, consider them essential partners in delivering your mission. Show them how their partnership and collaboration can strengthen lives and our community, and make it clear in your communications where they fit in these efforts. By treating your donors as critical collaborators, you will develop a more meaningful relationship with them that inspires continued involvement.

3. Secure a match partner.
A whopping 84% of donors say they are more likely to give to nonprofit organizations if a match is offered, according to Double the Donation. Increase the funds you raise on #GivingTuesdayNow by identifying an existing corporate partner or board member to match the donations you raise on this giving day. This offers your audiences an added incentive to give, knowing their contributions will have double or even triple the impact, up to a specific amount.

4. Give them a reason to feel hopeful.
Let’s face it. Everywhere we turn right now, we’re bombarded with grim news stories and heartbreaking accounts of what’s happening in the world around us. Approach #GivingTuesdayNow from a place of strength by giving your audiences a reason to feel positive and hopeful. Although the needs are great at this moment, connect your donors’ actions now to how their contributions will make our entire community stronger long after this crisis is behind us. While demonstrating a sense of urgency is critical for a successful appeal, so is your opportunity to infuse hope for a better future — to thrive, not just survive.

5. Offer those struggling financially with a way to support you.
Due to job disruptions and lost wages, many people who would typically love to support your nonprofit may be unable to do so right now. While it may not be possible for everyone to make a donation, everyone can use their influence to support your cause. Encouraging certain segments of your supporters to host a Facebook fundraiser on your behalf is a great way for them to make a difference when so much feels out of our control. Learn more about how to ensure your nonprofit is eligible to have supporters fundraise for you on Facebook here.

6. Don’t just ask.
While #GivingTuesdayNow is all about giving, don’t forget to surround every ask you make with authentic cultivation and engagement communications. Sharing stories and reporting back frequently with clarity and accountability is critical to fostering a lasting relationship with your supporters. Just as you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on the first or second date, you must consider how you communicate with your donors in the same way you would with a valued friend or family member.

7. Remember your staff.
Finally, on #GivingTuesdayNow, consider how you might give back to your staff. As we all work remotely these days, maintaining team morale can be more challenging. Use this day to give them something — an unexpected day off this month, a hand-written note or some other token of your appreciation. Your employees and team members are your greatest assets. During this profound time of challenge, make sure they know just how much you appreciate them.


Jesica D'Avanza

Jesica D’Avanza, MPA, APR, is an award-winning communications leader who works at the intersection of brand and business strategy to make our world a better place. As owner and chief strategy officer at Round Square, she applies nearly two decades of experience in brand and communications strategy to help nonprofits and mission-driven organizations transform their communications for greater relevance, resonance and results. Her consultancy supports clients across health care, wellness, education, environmental and nonprofit arenas.

Jesica has served in a variety of national communications and marketing leadership roles for organizations like the American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Florida State University and her Accreditation in Public Relations.

Position Your Nonprofit to Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

It’s hard to plan for the future when staying afloat is the day-to-day focus. NLC trainer and senior communications expert Heather Grzelka is helping nonprofits prepare to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world by sharing the one thing nonprofits must do during social distancing. She also shares strategic communications policies and procedures and a case study of how one nonprofit not only survived the last recession but positioned itself to thrive in the aftermath. Watch now.

Resources Referenced in the Video

More COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely in Uncertain Times

WATCH: Managing Uncertainty Amid Crisis

WATCH: DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

WATCH: Grant Writing During a Crisis

WATCH: How to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety

WATCH: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Local Nonprofits Show Courageous Leadership in Times of Crisis

Team NLC Stories

During times of crisis, it’s easy to be consumed by negative and heartbreaking stories that fill our news broadcasts and social media feeds. That’s why we asked the Tampa Bay nonprofit community to share their stories of strength. We’re collecting stories that shine a spotlight on the courage, leadership, nimbleness and resiliency of local nonprofit leaders and organizations. This week, we’re pleased to share how five nonprofits are helping strengthen our community — and us all.

Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative Helps Nonprofits Collaborate for Good

The Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative (TBHC) provides networking and educational opportunities to organizations serving uninsured and under-insured populations in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. While TBHC is not a direct service provider like its members and partners, it’s fostering critical collaborations to support organizations that are providing basic needs to our community during this time. On Monday, March 30, as a result of data collected in January from dozens of community partners, Executive Director Dr. Sheron Brown launched Collaborate Amid Crisis. It allows organizations to share initiatives they’re undertaking and request collaborative partners. The responses are available in this document that is updated and shared weekly. While recipients can search for partners on their own, TBHC staff is working to identify strategic collaborations to ease the workload on participants.

“Collaboration is the key to community success. Dr. Brown’s commitment to the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative and our members and partners is a positive light in the midst of uncertainty.”

Amy O’Rourke, Special Assistant to the Executive Director
Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative

Dawning Family Services Finds New Ways to Support Families

Dawning Family Services CEO Patricia Langford understands the financial burden their clients are experiencing. Some have lost their jobs or have had their work hours reduced, while juggling childcare with schools being closed. Wanting to continue meeting their clients’ needs, Patricia reached out to Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church for help. The church made a robust donation from its food pantry to help feed families. Patricia then assembled grocery bags on the front line that Dawning Family Services case managers picked up and delivered to their clients — all while following safety protocols.

“We are extremely grateful for Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church’s generosity and compassion and the tireless dedication of our leaders and staff. Working remotely during this time is a struggle, but Dawning Family Services will continue to care for the needs of our clients.”

Allison Kuhn, Dawning Family Services

University Area CDC Supports Us on YouTube

The University Area CDC has created a YouTube channel with free videos to help people stay active and engaged during the coronavirus crisis. They’ve created art tutorials (visual, dance, etc.) through their Prodigy Cultural Arts program and exercise and yoga videos through their Get Moving! program.

Community Tampa Bay Pivots with Purpose

Community Tampa Bay empowers people with tools to have hard conversations with others who don’t look like them, live like them or love like them to create a community free from all forms of discrimination.

The team at Community Tampa Bay took swift action to keep community members engaged, learning and connected during these unprecedented times. They created robust new virtual programming that offers anyone who wants to join an opportunity to build community — be it through the twice-daily Community Circles, its thought-provoking Hard Conversations Series or timely Creating Space events.

“There’s more to come from our small but mighty team! I’m one of many who has taken full advantage of these offerings during the past few weeks, and I’m so grateful for all of it.” 

Meriel Martínez

OASIS Continues to Support Students

OASIS supplies basic necessities to school children in need by collecting uniforms, hygiene items, shoes and other essential items that social workers in Hillsborough County Public Schools can access for free. With schools closed and stay-at-home orders in place, OASIS is now buying online gift cards for families in need that social workers can pass on to families they know who are in dire straits.


Share Your Story

Do you have a positive nonprofit story you’d like to share with our community? Tell us about it here.


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

WATCH: Managing Mental and Emotional Exhaustion

Charlie Imbergamo | Director of Strategic Programs Resources

In this time of prolonged crisis, everyone is feeling emotionally exhausted. Mental exhaustion can cause both physical and emotional effects that can affect your personality and productivity.

NLC trainer, mindfulness expert and therapist DrStem: Sithembile Mahlatini, Ed.D., LCSW shares the triggers of mental and emotional exhaustion and offers strategies you can begin using immediately to normalize your new routine, regain control and feel renewed. 

WATCH NOW to learn:

  • The triggers of mental and emotional exhaustion 
  • The risks and effects of mental and emotional exhaustion
  • Tools and coping skills on how to manage your emotions, balance work and family and avoid burnout 

Resources Referenced in the Video

More COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub

WATCH: Strategies for Working Remotely in Uncertain Times

WATCH: Managing Uncertainty Amid Crisis

WATCH: DOs and DON’Ts of Fundraising During a Crisis

WATCH: How to Cope with COVID-19 Anxiety


For more information and assistance specific to nonprofits, check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resource Hub. To learn about all events and resources from the Nonprofit Leadership Center, sign up to receive our weekly NLC e-newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram