Surviving, Thriving, & Developing New Capabilities in the Face of a Crisis

Organizational resilience has long been a staple of business planning. Tools and strategies exist to serve the private sector, which rely on big budgets and plentiful resources. Nothing was available that considered the unique strengths, opportunities, and circumstances of the social-serving sector. PolicyWise and Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) saw an opportunity to address this gap. They drew on their experience and expertise to begin capacity-building for organizational resilience across the sector in Alberta. The COVID-19 pandemic heightened the immediacy of the task – for the organizations, and the social sector more broadly, to survive and even thrive in the midst of a crisis they had to build resilience. To continue serving their communities during challenging times, the social-serving sector had to focus inwards. So, where to start? In partnership with CUPS, PolicyWise developed an organizational resilience assessment tool. Using it, social sector organizations could identify their strengths and opportunities for growth. They could use it to inform their strategic planning and make the case for funding to support organizational development in the area. Knowledge, data, and skills could be shared across the sector to strengthen the sector, making it more resilient as a whole. The project is just beginning. And still, the possibilities for it to generate new knowledge and have a broad impact are clear. PolicyWise is already leading the next phase of tool and strategy development in collaboration with partners across the province to ensure the resiliency of the social sector in response to COVID-19 and into the future.