Fay Twersky, vice president at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, recently launched The Listening Post, a monthly note dedicated to lifting up exceptional ideas, voices, and questions that can help all of us become more effective in our philanthropy. She’ll also share what the team at Hewlett is learning alongside its grantees.

An excerpt from the April edition is below:

The COVID-19 pandemic is only the most recent reminder that we live in uncertain times, and that nonprofit organizations, which play an essential role in society, need to be resilient to respond to major disruptions and emerging needs. But what does it mean to be resilient, especially in a time of major disruption? And for funders, what does it mean to foster resilience?

Practical resources on resilience My inbox is overflowing with resources that claim to be helpful, and I’ll bet yours is too. Here’s one that is worth the time: The S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation’s new report, “Resilience at Work: How Nonprofits Adapt to Disruption. How Funders Can Help” by Diana Scearce and June Wang. It talks about resilience as a key to achieving outcomes, and describes characteristics of resilient nonprofit organizations, such as being:

  1. Purpose-driven
  2. Clear-eyed
  3. Future-oriented
  4. Open
  5. Empowered
  6. Committed to self-renewal
  7. Connected

Another guide worth reading is “Tough Times Call for Tough Action: A Decision Framework for Nonprofit Leaders and Boards” from SeaChange. It, too, aims to help nonprofits get past facile solutions, especially when navigating a disruption like COVID-19, and contains practical advice on risk management, financial analysis, and nonprofit mergers, among other areas.

Let’s aim for more openness, less certainty I’ve lamented before how many in our sector express more certainty than curiosity—by, for example, championing a specific philanthropic approach rather than recognizing that tough problems do not typically lend themselves to simple solutions or rigid orthodoxies.

In the face of today’s tough problems, once again, there are no easy answers for funders.

Read the full Listening Post by Fay Twersky. Subscribe to the mailing here.