Welcome to the new world of corona impacted NPOs.

If you are a CEO of a nonprofit organization I imagine you’re having the same difficulty sleeping as I am.

The awesome responsibilities of leading our organization during this unprecedented crisis is not something anyone was prepared for.

Decisions like what staff to cut and who to keep is like losing members of the family.

No nonprofit is getting out of this unscathed. And the effects will remain with us for a long time.

The responsibility of leading our organizations through this difficult time falls on all of us.

This is not meant to diminish the significant contributions and guidance of our wonderful Boards and staff teams

But at the end of the day it’s just you and these tough decisions.

In my case, as I’m sure in many others, there will be a substantial deficit caused by the shutdown.

One that may take years to erase. I’m confident we will meet the challenge but each day looks gloomy.

So,  I’ve chosen to look beyond today’s challenges and think creatively about what will my agency look like come the Fall.

I must share while this is a difficult exercise it is also incredibly empowering.

We have no control over the impact of the Covid lockdown. But we have complete control of thinking through the plans for recovery.  Our business will look different but the importance of our work will remain.

This is an opportunity to be strategic,  innovative, and collaborative.

You can inspire creativity from everyone you invite into the conversation.

Given the burden of leadership in this troubling moment this can be liberating.

It will call for us to be flexible, well prepared, and decisive.

We will have to be open to doing things differently than we have in the past. Priorities will change. And success may have to be redefined.

Jeff Bezos, CEO, of Amazon,  has said that in his business when planning for the future he doesn’t focus on what might change but instead on what will remain constant.

For us our Mission is that constant.  We are needed, we are appreciated and we make a difference in the lives of thousands of people.

That will not change. The relationships we have forged with our communities will endure.

Business leaders understand that the basic needs of people remain the same even during and after a crisis.

How we adapt to the changing environment is a test of our leadership skills.

This may help free us from the daily grind of worrying about things we can’t control. And instead give us focus for a future plan.

We will get through this.  And what waits on the other side of this crisis can be planned for, managed, and be part of our organization’s strategy.

I wish you all the best as you do your important work.

I hope to see you soon so we can continue the conversation and give each other support.

Stay well, be safe, and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Les Cohen

JCC Executive Director

Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey

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