Non-Profit Leadership During a Pandemic

The leadership structure of Virginia Supportive Housing is interesting, because there are two sides of the company that have very different purposes. On one side is the development side, that looks more like your typical non-profit, it is growth minded, and many of the processes are centered around fundraising. The other side of the organization is the management side, which encompasses all of the properties, and supportive services that we provide to our program participants. Within both sides of the company work is largely self directed, because the work processes have been highly standardized over the years.

The exception to that rule would be my work assignments. VSH does not typically have an internship program, so when it came to the work that I did it, there was not a codified system like there is for other roles. Most of the assignments that I was given were ad hoc, and varied a lot depending on the projects that other team members were working on that week. 

In some ways, the pandemic has not severely impacted the way that Virginia Supportive Housing does their work because we work in three regions across Virginia. There already was a culture of working remotely as the regions interact and cooperate with each other. That being said, adjustments have been made to make things safer for our program participants, and our donor base. 

For the Management side of VSH, the pandemic shifted how they did their work quite a bit. Each property that we manage has supportive services staff that are on the property every day, but that is not possible at the moment. They also had to increase cleaning procedures in the properties, because many of our program participants are at higher risk for COVID. 

For the development side of the organization, there were more adjustments that were needed, especially as we consider donor relationships. The grant cycles were impacted, because we needed to apply for emergency funds so that the properties could increase sanitation. We also were unable to apply for grants, because they were not available this year. Donor relationship management was also a crucial adjustment, because VSH prides themselves on having their large donors wrapped into understanding the organization, and how we are innovating to meet the needs of the community we are serving.