Local nonprofits get fresh look to help navigate uncertainties

Ten local nonprofits are beneficiaries this year of a unique service helping them navigate today’s uncertainties.

Another 10 can apply beginning this week to have a fresh set of volunteers create Scenario Plans for them before the end of March.

The efforts are being coordinated by Cincinnati Cares, the local nonprofit guide to what nonprofits need now, and Inspiring Service, its nonprofit parent organization that now operates similar guides in 16 regions across nearly a dozen states.

Since Nov. 1, more than 50 volunteers have been working with the 10 nonprofits on developing Scenario Plans to help the nonprofits craft a survival strategy for today’s unprecedented challenges. Half of the volunteers came from the Cincinnati office of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which used the opportunity to engage its workforce in virtual and high-impact volunteering.

National experts have suggested that all organizations can benefit from Scenario Planning, a cousin to strategic planning that takes into account an organization’s key drivers and maps them against all the uncertainties being encountered in today’s environment in order to create short- and medium-term survival. It’s been estimated that nearly a third of nonprofits will close as a result of the global pandemic, the economic upheaval caused by it and the social reckoning prompted by the George Floyd murder last Memorial Day.

“A significant amount of philanthropy has been focused on providing funding to help nonprofits get through COVID-19,” said Craig Young, Inspiring Service’s founder. “But very little has been provided to help nonprofits create the decision-making framework most need now.”

Craig Young (Photo by Tina Gutierrez)

The Cincinnati Cares program is called HelpConnect, and kicks off with a unique virtual matching event where the skilled volunteers get to meet the nonprofits they could serve. There are two other large national platforms that match general-skilled volunteers to nonprofits, but neither offers a community-based format nor a unique immediate outcome the way Inspiring Service’s program has been designed.

In a matter of 10 weeks, $120,000 in impact (what the minimum cost of such Scenario Plans would be if nonprofits hired professionals to design them) will be delivered to Greater Cincinnati’s nonprofit sector. The goal of the program is to repeat it in a community as many times as feasible to produce as much impact as possible.

  • The next cohort of volunteers is scheduled to be matched Jan. 21.
  • Applications for nonprofit participations are being taken now through Jan. 8.
  • Interested in helping over the next two months as a volunteer? Sign up.

Cincinnati Cares has been working with a national expert in Scenario Planning – Dr. Emilie Socash with the Nonprofit Help Center in Saint Petersburg, Fla. Dr. Socash leads a training and workshop to prepare both the volunteers and the nonprofits on how to properly conduct Scenario Planning.

Dr. Emilie Socash

Craig Young founded Inspiring Service in 2017, and created in 2018 the Cincinnati Cares guide to active nonprofits, with the goal to reverse the twice-the-national-rate-of-decline being experienced in volunteering in Greater Cincinnati. With that mission accomplished by 2019, Inspiring Service turned its attention in 2020 to helping COVID-19-ravaged communities build similar guides. A companion platform developed by Inspiring Service helps communities create WIDER — welcoming, inclusive, diverse, equitable and representative — nonprofit boards through innovative matching technologies that help nonprofits connect with candidates who otherwise would never have discovered each other.

The guides help community nonprofits create WIDER boards, give the nonprofits a way to tell their stories and provide an online presence badly needed in today’s digital world. Inspiring Service’s overarching goal is to connect people to nonprofits who otherwise would never have found each other.


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