Strategically Navigating Your Organizations Pivot
Is your organization willing to make long-term changes to your strategy and plan ahead? Could you need to redefine what success looks like to your organization and how this impact is measured? Is it time to update or create your program’s logic model?
COVID-19 and the Need to Pivot
Imagine your organization and its mission as a road trip. You are driving along on this road trip, and then you have to make some quick decisions with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic storm. You may need to go back to your road map and be willing to make long-term changes to your strategy and plan ahead. Organizations may need to pivot, but that isn’t all: Donors in Denver pivoted their funding opportunities to food banks because of the pandemic. They identified an unexpected, acute need and changed their outcomes to address this issue.
Pivoting will not just be for the short term. As the COVID-19 pandemic continually changes the social landscape, nonprofits are facing daily challenges to create a “new normal.” Resuming work will rest upon new needs, including revisiting and revising workplace policy, sustaining and creating new relationships, and making hard decisions. For example, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center suggests reevaluating your mission, think about the direction you are going, and your top strategic priorities. As aptly stated by Herman and Thomey (2021):
“Look at your nonprofit through the eyes of a startup and reimagine the future of your organization! This might mean reevaluating your mission and how it impacts your community. It might mean making some bold directional changes or rethinking your top three strategic priorities. Drive change that is necessary to survive in a new Post-COVID world.”
So, you want to take advantage of this opportunity to pivot, address new or varied needs in your community, establish internal structure, create a new pathway forward for your organization. Where do you start? Internally! Return to, or create, your program’s logic model, your program’s natural road map.
Write it Down: Pivoting with a Logic Model
Changing your organization’s internal structure and plans for the long-term may seem daunting, especially if you do not already have a program logic model. The CDC defines a logic model as a, “Graphic depiction (road map) that presents the shared relationships among the resources, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact for your program.” This is a document which houses all of these key pieces of information for your organization, such as inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, assumptions, and contextual factors. Some of these may seem very basic to established organizations, but it’s never too late to create and start utilizing logic models. Especially during the pandemic, organization and program plans have to change. You may have to take a new road forward, so updating your logic model to reflect these changes may help you move forward! In fact, logic models are living documents – they change with the times, like your organization.
How do logic models help during a pandemic? First, they help with big-picture planning. For example, you can have internal discussions about each portion of the logic model and how the pandemic affects these big areas. Has the pandemic changed your program inputs, as funding streams have diverted? With the near halt of in-person activities, how has this transformed your programs strategies? Do you deliver services through Zoom? How does this delivery impact your anticipated outputs and outcomes? These discussion questions tie directly to parts of the logic model, which can help plan your movement forward.
Getting Started on Your Logic Model
So, you want to get started on the logic model journey. Gather your organization’s key staff and start the brainstorming process. If you already have a logic model, start identifying the key impacts of COVID-19 on your organization, and update this living document accordingly. If your organization does not have a logic model, you’re in for a treat! One evaluator compiled a list of five steps for logic model creation, with key discussion questions in each step. There are countless resources available to you and your organization as you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still overwhelmed? Need more assistance? Research Evaluation Consulting specializes in learning about your organization and creating logic models suited to your needs. This tailored tool will get to the heart of who you are and what you do and help you achieve your mission! We do not stop there: We are a trusted evaluation expert for every step of the way, and we will help your organization navigate evaluation challenges due to COVID-19. If you want more information or a 30-minute consultation, email us!
Center for Disease Control (2021). Logic Models: CDCs Approach to Evaluation. Center for Disease Control. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/eval/logicmodels/index.htm.
Herman, M.L. & Thomey, W.C. (2021). Take 10: Resume and Thrive Strategies. Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Link: https://nonprofitrisk.org/resources/e-news/take-10-resume-and-thrive-strategies/
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. (2021). Logic Models: Practical Planning to Reach Program Goals. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Link: https://icjia.illinois.gov/researchhub/articles/logic-models-practical-planning-to-reach-program-goals.
Nelson, E. (2020). Colorado donors pivot to meet pandemic’s challenges. Denver Business Journal. Link: https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2020/11/25/colorado-donors-pivot-to-meet-pandemics-challenge.html
Robinson, A. (2018). Using Logic Models for Program Planning and Evaluation. Creative Research Solutions. Link: https://creativeresearchsolutions.com/using-logic-models-for-program-planning-and-evaluation/
Logic model, pandemic, organizational planning, impact, strategy