Now more than ever, nonprofits face a more volatile and unpredictable environment. However, through The Bridgespan Group’s work (in partnership with Emerson Collective) supporting four dozen nonprofits in Emerson Collective’s portfolio, we have had a close-up view as these leadership teams navigated the pandemic and the ongoing fight for equity and justice, even as they pursued new ways of working; new pathways for evolving their programs; and new strategies for supporting more constituents.

For example, New Door Ventures used the crisis to reshape its entire career-skills curriculum for young people who are out of work or school. In just a few short weeks, ImmSchools raised $200,000 to create a COVID-19 response fund for undocumented families, even though such work previously stood outside of the young nonprofit’s field of focus. The Climate Reality Project also had to make a quick pivot, to re-create the way it trained thousands of climate activists to lead change efforts in their communities.

Despite having to re-invent on the fly during a global pandemic, these organizations not only supported their constituents, but did so in new, sometimes outsized ways. In doing so, these and other nonprofits demonstrated one of the core features of organizational resilience: they reframed the crisis, viewing it as an important moment to imagine, and then invent, better possibilities for the communities they serve—even as they and their communities grappled with spirit-depleting adversity.

More likely than not, any nonprofit that seeks to come out of this crisis (or the next) stronger and more adaptable than it was before will have to work through two conundrums: How do we identify a game-changing opportunity when there is so much uncertainty?

And then, how do we reduce the risks that come with making that opportunity a reality?

Read the full article about opportunity in adversity by Meera Chary and Bill Breen at The Bridgespan Group.