Is today's wadded-up paper tomorrow's great light-bulb moment?

Innovative Nonprofits in the Covid Era

In Strategic Planning by lisavgray

UPDATED February 24, 2021 — Innovative nonprofits and creative-types are using Covid’s New Normal to evaluate their business models and audience engagement efforts for new opportunities, as we’ve discussed before. Need some real-life examples for inspiration? Check-out the articles below!

Nonprofit Innovation - today's wadded-up paper becomes tomorrow's great light-bulb moment!

Crunch Time for Girl Scout Cookie Sales by David Griffith for The Charlotte Ledger (digital edition, February 24, 2021)

…local Girl Scouts of the United States of America leaders say it’s presented an opportunity to teach girls about modern sales and entrepreneurship.

“A huge cornerstone of the girl scout experience is teaching girls to be leaders in their own lives, and we are seeing this crazy huge surge in innovation from our cookie bosses,” said Eden Creamer-Hurdle, marketing and communications manager for the Charlotte-area Hornets’ Nest chapter of the Girl Scouts.


Notes Toward Reinventing the American Orchestra by Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times (digital edition, February 12, 2021) – Paywall

A return to normalcy in the music world will not do. The closures of concert halls and opera houses have revealed how fragile the economic support system for classical music actually is. Freelance artists have lost most of their work. Major institutions have been grappling not just with survival, but also with questions of mission, relevance and inclusion, issues that became even more acute when nationwide demonstrations for racial justice broke out last year.

These questions are driving talks and planning at all American performing arts institutions. But I’ve been thinking especially of our orchestras, which, for all their many admirable yet scattered efforts at innovation and outreach, remain reluctant to make fundamental changes to how their seasons are presented. It’s 2021, and we are still debating how to reinvent the orchestra for the 21st century.


Running with Scissors (and a Mask!): COVID-19 Responses at Old Salem Museums & Gardens by Franklin D. Vangone on the website of the American Alliance of Museums (February 10, 2021)

Just as flexible buildings can withstand hurricane-force winds and earthquakes, flexible institutions can withstand monumental challenges like a global pandemic. Because of our four years of re-envisioning at Old Salem Museum & Gardens and The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, which I detailed in a previous article on this blog, we were in a strong position to flex rather than break under the pandemic’s pressures and unfortunate effects.

In this follow-up to my last post, I will outline the actions we’ve taken behind the scenes during the pandemic—not only shiny new things like our successful move into TikTok but also workhorse activities that significantly modified our operations to respond to the pandemic and keep an eye on the post-COVID world.


Stuck at Home, Pastry Chefs Find Freedom. New Yorkers Find Cookies by Pete Wells in the New York Times (digital edition, February 16, 2021) – Paywall

[LVG note: ok – not a nonprofit. Still about using covid to do new, better stuff. Worth a read!]

“I have more opportunity to let my skills show” than at the night market, she said. Ms. Miao, who is Chinese-American, said working for herself also allowed her to draw on flavors that express her Asian heritage but that would have been out of step at the French or Italian restaurants where she used to work. … “I’ve never been able to be this creative in my life,” she said.


For These Classical Musicians, It’s Always Been About Racial Equity by Joshua Barone in the New York Times (digital edition, January 27, 2021) – Paywall

The work now being taken up by large institutions has long been the purpose of many smaller ones. We spoke with seven of them.


If you’ve seen other articles about nonprofits – or any organization – that is thinking fresh thoughts about how they deliver on their promises, send them along please. Eager to hear from you!