Client: Coalition of philanthropic foundations
Task: The focus of this work was to understand exactly how nonprofits have been impacted and what specific strategies can be used to improve organizational resilience in order to protect essential community services.
“The Quad students were prepared and professional during our Q&A session. They asked thoughtful questions and although we had to use Zoom, were engaged, and took copious notes to better understand the existing local landscape related to organizational resilience. Their work has added to the resiliency resources that will benefit our nonprofit community.”– Mina Liebert
The organizational resilience project was conceived as a response to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a significant strain on local micro-business and area nonprofits. In partnership with local foundations, the Organizational Resilience project sought to determine which factors contribute to organizational resilience in the context of Colorado Springs, as well as how to effectively measure these factors. The project started in the summer of 2020 and the work was expanded into the fall of 2020 to reevaluate and grow the assessment tool as well as to determine strategies that the community could use to improve and build their organizational resilience. The focus of this work was to understand exactly how nonprofits have been impacted and what specific strategies can be used to improve organizational resilience in order to protect essential community services.
The project originally started with a Quad Research Fellow, who conducted the 2020 State of Nonprofit Survey to identify key challenges facing nonprofits, broken down by size, sector and budget. The work was then continued with two teams of Quad students who surveyed academic research on resilience, identified key components of resilience for operational and strategic sustainability, and developed an assessment matrix for organizations to identify areas where resilience can be bolstered. The students also conducted twenty-five interviews with various foundations, consulting firms, nonprofit organizations, and microbusinesses at multiple stages of the process which informed their work. Furthermore, research was collated from various well-known sources, including academic research papers, popular business journals and newspaper articles. The project was furthered this summer to incorporate 2021 data in another Nonprofit Survey. Using similar research tactics, the data encapsulates the state of non-profits in 2021 in comparison to 2020. The main reason for this study was to identify impacts and planned remedies for volunteer/employees, on financial impacts and, lastly, on in-person/remote work models for the transition out of the pandemic.
The goal of the on-going project has been to understand the current state of our local nonprofits and micro-businesses and identify their challenges and opportunities in addition to developing a way to measure resilience with a self-assessment tool. Best practices and resources for organizational resilience have also been shared. In the longer term, the hope from this research is that these tools will continue to be adapted and used by various members of the community, including consulting organizations, researchers, foundations, and the broader community.