The U.S. Is Battling Social Crises on Many Fronts: 3 Ways to Enhance Collaboration to Help Nonprofits & Aid Organizations Meet the Moment
The United States is enduring a deluge of social crises. From the far-reaching impact of the pandemic to the devastating opioid epidemic to the destruction caused by natural disasters, nonprofits and aid organizations are experiencing an unprecedented demand for critical goods and services.
As nonprofits strive to do more with less, many are stretched thin, diminishing outcomes at a critical time.
These challenges are exacerbated when nonprofits act alone or compete against one another out of devotion to their mission and urgency to support their constituents. As a result, organizations risk duplicating efforts while failing to account for the complexity of each individual.
To thrive in this challenging environment, nonprofits and aid organizations must work together to meet the moment. Here are three ways nonprofits can enhance their collaborative efforts to provide better outcomes for their constituents.
#1 Eliminate barriers to receiving help and support through a “one front door” intake process
Asking for help is hard. People may feel vulnerable reaching out to people, nonprofits, or aid organizations to seek assistance, while social stigma and other factors exacerbate these challenges.
That’s why highly effective aid organizations will embrace a “one front door” intake process, allowing people to tell their stories one time while gaining access to a variety of services that support their various needs.
For example, people struggling with homelessness are likely experiencing more than a housing crisis. A 2019 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that 36 percent of people experiencing homelessness also suffer from substance abuse or mental health challenges. These problems are interrelated and solving one without addressing the others only prolongs challenges.
A “one front door” approach helps people get the help they need by allowing people to solicit support once while connecting them with a variety of resources. This demands that nonprofits eradicate a siloed support distribution method, instead relying on an alliance approach that supports the holistic good of each individual.
#2 Reduce the amount of administration involved in constituent onboarding, allowing staff to focus on client-facing activities
Often operating with limited financial and personnel resources, nonprofits can optimize their constituent-facing activities by reducing onboarding administration requirements.
For starters, designate an onboarding specialist to capture as much information as possible as quickly as possible. This ensures that constituents are quickly and efficiently connected to the programs and services that meet their needs. When coupled with a “one front door” approach, nonprofits optimize their effectiveness by providing their primary offerings while leveraging collaborative relationships with other organizations to meet ancillary needs.
#3 Rely on a secure platform to share information in real-time
Data privacy concerns are top-of-mind for many people, and nonprofits must account for cybersecurity when implementing digital resources to support constituent outcomes. Moving forward, data privacy is an extension of nonprofit good governance, and nonprofits put operational continuity and constituent concerns on the line when they fail to protect digital privacy.
That’s why nonprofits should harness secure digital platforms to share constituent information in real-time. This provides nonprofits with a more holistic picture of an individual’s needs while optimizing resources by avoiding duplicating efforts without compromising people’s privacy in the process.
The results can be powerful. When nonprofits better understand each individual’s complex challenges, they can deliver support services that account for the whole person, improving outcomes along the way. Notably, since a cadre of underlying causes impact many care issues, collaborative digital platforms allow support providers to adopt an early intervention mindset, giving teams an opportunity to flag risks and report ancillary challenges.
Nonprofits and aid organizations are doing excellent work even as heightened demand and surging caseloads threaten to overwhelm their effectiveness. Now, nonprofits and aid organizations can best meet the moment by solving problems and supporting people in every way possible.
To do so, they will need to work together. Collaboration is the key to achieving their mission, caring for their constituents, and delivering outcomes that matter most.
Gary Pettengell is CEO of ECINS (Empowering Communities through Integrated Network Systems), a purpose-built, cloud-based, highly collaborative case management system. To commemorate its launch in the United States, the team behind ECINS is allocating $500,000 of free software services and subscriptions to eligible U.S. nonprofits as part of a new pilot program. For over 20 years, ECINS has been used by organizations worldwide to improve the lives of vulnerable people and empower the practitioners who serve them. Created on the belief that when people work together they can achieve more, ECINS is capable of solving just about any case management problem that exists. Connect with Gary on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter @ECINSNews. Learn more about ECINS’ U.S. Pilot Program by visiting https://ecinsfoundation.org/us-pilot-program.