IG2020 Logo with the statement "Virtual Connections"; Other words such as Compassionate, Adaptable, and #SocialDistancing appear in different shades of darkness to convey the different ways connections will grow while we work in distant settings in response to COVID-19.

Life has changed so much in the past two months. It’s demanded of all of us an amplified mix of reflection, adaptability, compassion, willingness to jump in and do something, and patience to wait for the next change or new information to emerge.

Long ago, our team collaborated to describe our purpose: to help mission-driven organizations tap into information, navigate complexity and deepen their impact. That purpose is needed more than ever in today’s complex world. For example, Minnesota’s Gov. Walz determined that policy responses to COVID-19 needed to navigate the complex balance of public health, social distancing, and societal wellbeing. He used these three objectives to measure whether businesses and schools could safely reopen and applied them to workplaces, social gatherings, and schools.

Many foundations, meanwhile, immediately recognized that the organizations they support were no longer able to do business as usual. In order to rapidly address the changing reality, many created response funds, drawing on strategies like trust-based giving (e.g., funding organizations with whom they have an existing relationship) or focus-based giving (e.g., funding in areas with which they have familiarity). To help navigate all this change, Access Philanthropy put together a google sheet to help easily find out what support is available.

At The Improve Group, we are working with several of our public sector and philanthropy clients to assess changes in communities. We are tapping deeply into our values to make considerations for each solution—here are a few examples…

Table that describes considerations we are making around our values of Thoughtfulness, creativity, and inclusion

In late March, we tapped into these values as we began some pro bono work with African Economic Development Solutions (AEDS) to understand how the COVID-19 virus and resulting changes to our economic life were affecting the businesses they supported. We designed a survey, supported volunteers in gathering data, and reported on results in under a month. AEDS will use this rapidly gathered data to design supports and access resources for African-owned businesses. Moira Gaidzanwa shared that this project gave her a lot of joy; it offered the chance to use her evaluation skills to help a community that was being deeply affected by the virus.

Policy and economic changes have rarely happened so fast in human history. Within all this change, we remain hopeful that new opportunities are arising for the more resilient, equitable, and thriving world we envision. In the next few weeks, we’ll be launching new tools and resources to support organizations on this journey. Stay tuned for these updates and stay hopeful about the possibilities to come.

In hope and healing,