Nonprofit leaders have taken heroic steps to continue their organizations’ important work as COVID-19 swept across the world. They’ve been able to make sure their cash is under control, provide emergency relief, and keep staff and constituents safe—all while staying on mission under extraordinary stress. Yet they still can’t be sure how the pandemic will affect society, the economy, or their own field six months or a year from now.
How can you make smart decisions when faced with such vast uncertainty over time? “Don’t let the daily issues bleed into the longer-term planning, and vice versa,” suggested one nonprofit leader we talked to during the pandemic. Responding to the short term has been paramount but preparing for the longer term is no less pressing. That’s where scenario planning comes into play.
Scenario planning helps organization leaders navigate uncertainty while providing structure around making key strategic decisions. This article, and the accompanying tool, can support you and your leadership team through a scenario planning process that could help preserve your organization’s ability to pursue its goals for impact. We carefully adapted Bain & Company’s coronavirus scenario planning guidance and strategy in uncertainty methodology, and worked with a number of nonprofit leaders to put this approach into practice.
Access the full planning toolkit about nonprofit scenario planning at The Bridgespan Group.