All throughout the COVID-19 pandemic’s reign, with the unfathomable loss of life as well as the grinding struggle to battle back racism and advance equity, front-line nonprofits have had to reorient and respond to the extraordinary suffering across their communities, even as others confronted such existential threats as climate change. But what of the nonprofits themselves? How can they summon the resilience to serve so many in such deep need, when the world around them is so unstable and often unknowable?

When a crisis sets in and fear looms large, it can hobble people’s confidence and chip away at their sense of agency. However, any nonprofit that is making progress against its goals possesses an inner superpower—that special something that makes the organization what it is and enables it to achieve its maximum impact. A superpower could be a resource or a capability, a mindset or an approach. Whatever form it might take, a superpower animates a nonprofit. It helps the nonprofit stand out among its peers. And it’s a force for multiplying impact, enabling the nonprofit to achieve the most that it can for those whom it serves.

A superpower is fully expressed through an organization’s programs, services, or culture. Perhaps the nonprofit excels at bringing groups with different agendas together, such as community members, business leaders, and government officials. Or it’s renowned for harnessing technical expertise.

By putting these unique assets to work, organizations increase the odds that they will not only endure adversity, they might also discover new opportunities to advance, despite all the obstacles. In fact, marshalling those critical assets that comprise a superpower is vital even in the absence of a crisis, given that it is incumbent on nonprofits to adapt as the world around them changes.

Read the full article about nonprofit superpowers by Meera Chary and Bill Breen at The Bridgespan Group.