Executive Insights on Nonprofit Resiliency During COVID-19

Blackbaud Canada recently hosted our firstever digital executive roundtableNecessity Breeds Innovation: Getting Back to Business. This panel brought together four executive panelists from the charitable sector to discuss learnings from the impact of COVID-19 and how organizations, regardless of size, can pivot their strategy to remain strong and resilient, even in a challenging fundraising climate.  

We have summarized some of the key takeaways from this session if you were not able to attend this event live. You can also view the entire session on demand. 


Remain agile while staying true to your mission 

Following the impact of COVID-19, flexibility has been a necessity as all organizations move to new platforms and implement different strategies to reach their goals.  

  • Its less about the plan that is on paper and it’s much more about understanding the environment, understanding the impacts on your business today, understanding how you are going to respond, and then keeping an eye on trends and recovery windows to be able to look for at what point you may be able to start to make inroads back towards your planoactually your plan needs to pivot and may have to go in a different direction to be able to accommodate the changes that the environment has brought. – Tania Little, Chief Partnerships OfficerFood Banks Canada  
  • “Strategy remains the same. What changes is the ‘how’.” – Ronan Ryan,Chief Marketing and Development Officer, Canadian Red Cross 


Keep telling your story, and the stories of those you serve.  

While adaptability has been paramount for all organizations, the panelists agreed that charities should stay true to the heart of their causes and remain steadfast in their missions in the months ahead, and regardless oany additional challenges in the future that may arise. 

  • “I think it is very important that even though we are flexible and adaptable, we stay true to our missions and that we don’t lose sight of what we are here to accomplish for our communities.” – Ted Garrard, CEO, SickKids Foundation 
  • “We have a duty to tell the story of those we serve.”– Ronan RyanChief Marketing and Development Officer, Canadian Red Cross 
  • “All of these issues don’t stop because of a pandemic and, if anything, these marginalized communities might become even more vulnerable without support and without those stories being told.” – Tania LittleChief Partnerships Officer at Food Banks Canada 


Effective tools and data are key to success. 

With a swift shift to working from home and to online platformsthe importance of implementing or updating existing tools related to marketing, analytics and fundraising was highlighted by the panel as a necessity for successAs teams continue working remotely, and with many major campaigns and events moving virtual, technology has been a major aspect of this transition and in many ways has buoyed those who already had a solid infrastructure in place. Using these tools also facilitates the use of data as a compass to guide fundraising efforts. 

  • “The ability to use technology and data to drive giving is a fundamental shift that there is no turning back from.” – Ted Garrard
  • “Data is what allows us to make good, informed decisions.” -Tania Little 


Come together. 

With the challenges the charitable sector has faced in recent months and the recovery period that no doubt lies ahead, each of the speakers referenced moments of hope, of community building and of success, all noting the silver linings built within a situation of this magnitude. Looking through the lens of opportunity, our speakers shared the value of learning from each other, both within the sector and otherwise and in the spirit of collaboration. Through forging unexpected partnerships and working together, there are new perspectives to be found, and moments of camaraderie to see us through the months ahead. 

  •  “For me, the inspiration in the sector has been the opportunity for collaboration.”– Tania Little