Contingency plan. Lots of people (read: your colleagues) don’t think about this until they need one. Let me guess- you might have needed one in the last 3 months?

I’m not going to say they are the most fun part of running a non-profit. It usually requires thinking about and dealing with a doomsday scenario. But what’s worse is getting to the day after doomsday without a path forward.

Here are a few ways you can make progress toward a usable and flexible contingency plan so that your nonprofit is prepared to pivot when the time comes.

Who is involved?

  • Executive Director- this might go without saying, but it’s important to have input and buy-in on the contingency plan from the leader of the organization. They may not be writing it. They may not be the boots on the ground on doomsday. But they are responsible for ushering the nonprofit through the storm and they have to be comfortable with the solutions.
  • Board of Directors – In times of crisis, great Boards are an excellent support system, have valuable ideas and can temporarily fill in gaps in your organization’s resources. Get them involved in the process so that they can help you when the going gets rough.
  • Senior Management & Select Staff – Let us rewind to “writing it” and “boots on the ground.” If you have a bigger- than- tiny or medium- sized nonprofit, you are likely to have multiple departments and a variety of skill sets that are going to be the ones on the busy end of the contingency plan. They have deep knowledge of processes, software, operations capabilities and human capacities during challenges. They are the internal organs of your nonprofit! Keep them in good working order, prepped and nurture nimble-ness.

What should you do?

  • Dust off your strategic plan. Make sure it’s relevant to what’s happening now and addresses your future goals.
  • Remodel your strategic plan. If you are finding that many parts of your strategic plan need to be put on hold or punted, it’s time to rethink what you should be doing and your purpose. This doesn’t mean your purpose was destroyed on doomsday, it means you need to adjust it to current times and attitudes to address your relevancy.
  • Try it on for size. You know how your community sometimes runs a potential disaster scenario like a school bus accident or hazardous chemical spill? Yep. Do that. It doesn’t have to be a multi-day event with fake blood and hired actors. Meet with your team and make sure you’ve identified all the “Ifs” and have an answer in the “Then…” column.

Some events that might require a contingency plan:

  • Pandemics
  • Loss of Revenue Source
  • Natural Disaster
  • Sudden loss of staff/leadership
  • Recession/Economic Hardship
  • Loss or damage to property
  • Computer/System Hacking
  • Worksite Accidents
  • Internal Mismanagement or neglect

Remember this

You don’t have to have the answers in your contingency plan, you just have to have a path to make decisions and prioritize important actions when the you-know-what hits the you-know-what.

Need help getting started with contingency planning? Contact me for a 30-minute call and we’ll take the first steps together. Looking for guidance during this weird COVID-19 world? Purchase Incite! Consulting’s Pivot Package and add contingency planning as your Wild Card service.

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