June 26, 2021

Nonprofits Strategic Plan: Recovering from a Pandemic

Congratulations! You have just experienced one of the most difficult periods of our lifetime, but are we out of the water, yet? For those of us who have spent time on the water and have had the pleasure (or terror) of being pulled behind a boat on water skis, you know the feeling of getting jerked around. The past year feels awfully similar, doesn’t it? Let's discuss a strategic plan for our nonprofits and small businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As some states begin to lift restrictions, there’s a sense of hope around us, but still a level of uncertainty. Have no fear, BTD is here! If you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you’re not quite sure where to begin, keep reading. We’ve developed a mini roadmap to help you brainstorm the many paths toward pandemic recovery.

First, take a minute to review the graphic below and then let’s discuss which best describes your organization during the pandemic.

Amidst the pandemic, did you re-invent, find a new normal, return to operations as usual, or close down? As we start to return to some sort of normal, how are you planning for the next steps? There is no wrong or right answer. We just want to help you think through the next steps.

The Hunkered Downers

It was not unusual for most baby to small organizations to scale back or even close down during the pandemic. If staff and operating costs were already minimal, it may have made the most sense to simply meet the minimum board meeting requirements and call it a day. Others may have ventured into virtual fundraising events to support scaled-back missions. There’s no wrong way to manage through a pandemic and “hunkering down” may have been the best decision for your organization and certainly not an easy one to make. We applaud you!

The Mild Pivoteers

If you continued to fulfill your current mission, just in new ways, you’re likely a mild pivoteer. Some training was likely required to help staff work remotely, but other than a new office view, things were business as usual. If your organization was not already equipped to working remotely, you likely faced many challenges. How many of your team members had used Zoom before the pandemic? How many still have dialup at home? We’ve heard it all at BTD! If your organization is large enough to have an IT department, transitioning was a breeze. If not, you may have found yourself a few months behind other orgs, but that’s OK. Your team has learned so much from this experience and it’s possible many of these new tools and systems may become the norm for your organization. We applaud you for leading your organization into a new age of technology!

The Extreme Pivoteers

Our extreme pivoteers likely did a 180 during the pandemic. These organizations either temporarily or permanently revised their mission to support brand new programs, products, or services. You likely developed brand new policies and procedures to support the new mission, revised job descriptions, and trained staff. It’s possible you may have even hired staff to support the growing need. The challenge now becomes whether the previous mission will blend back into the current mission or whether the pre-COVID mission goes away all together. We will address this in a future post. For now, take a deep breath. We applaud your innovation and ability to adapt quickly to an ever-changing environment!

So What's Next?

If you pivot back to your pre-COVID normal as fast as you were forced to pivot into the pandemic, you'll miss the opportunity to care for your organization and innovate towards a new normal. Use this next phase to wipe the slate clean. Revisit programs and projects and think strategically about how to reintroduce, reinvent, or discontinue. Don't be afraid to make educated and bold decisions for the good of your organization. The best advice any coach could give you at this point is to simply PACE yourself...


Pause with purpose. We've moved from bright and shiny fluffy goal setters to badass conquerers this year. What's your drive, now? If you didn't have one before, we bet you do now, even if you haven't said it outloud yet.


Analyze the market, opportunity, needs, covid impact, lessons learned, what's working, what's not working, what can be left behind, and what can be leaned into.


Lay out your current state. How does it overlap with your P&A?


Evaluate how you evaluate. What are you tracking, counting, and/or measuring? How and when are you collecting it? What's the response?

Give yourself the time you need. We have been pandemic-ing long enough and we're now in a groove. Let your organization run while you get crystal clear about how and when you start your post-pandemic pivot.

Not sure your next strategy is the right decision? You're never alone with BTD at your side...

Want to learn more about how other nonprofits have managed through the pandemic, check out the NONPROFIT REPORT: 2020 Virtual Pivot Insights!

Blue Tree exists to help nonprofits and small businesses set clear, life-giving strategy and turn it into action.

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