UH OH – Agency Crisis Alert!

Where’s Your Safety Net – By Marisa Folse, co-founder of GATE

In November I joined an online chat about what happens when leadership of a nonprofit is unable to function due to illness, injury or some other challenge. Does your agency have a plan, a safety net? Hmmm…

Thanks Bonbon Lang-es for photo

I commented (at that time) this is something we need to create. We have no plan, no backups for key volunteers, no system in place for transition of duties. Since it was November and Giving Tuesday happens, plus end of year everything gets into gear. It got pushed, with a note – set that up in the new year. ***Enter your eye rolling here!


Thanks to Praneeth Koduru for photo

In mid December that’s exactly what happened to our agency. Over half of our leadership and a majority of our key volunteers came down with covid and long covid symptoms. It took us out and hit us hard. For MONTHS, we were no longer able to do our job, continue our volunteer work nor continue the agency in a cohesive manner.

  • I was affected which meant our financial and volunteer systems were put on hold.  No budget updates or management, no fundraising oversight, etc. 
  • Our outreach efforts were halted even before I became ill. So no website or other updates, no email monitor or response. 
  • Our caregiver support lead fell gravely ill also, meaning our online community went unattended.

A coinciding event that was totally outside our agency occurred and also affected our services. Regional foster care system revamped child placements in an effort to house siblings together.  While a great idea, foster families who were key volunteers with us needed to refocus time to care for additional children with social emotional challenges. As a result most of our agency work with children halted. 

That’s pretty much everything we do negatively affected in a short period of time. Such a wakeup call!

Thanks to samer daboul for photo

The reality of how important a back up, or safety net, is hit home. The fact that it was put off (yes, I procrastinate often) was not okay for us. Now, in hindsight having some manual agency efforts automated would be great. But that’s another post.

Instead of procrastinating further, I choose to let you know where we are and what we are experiencing. Yes, we are in crisis. Yes, nearly everything is in a holding pattern. BUT, we will persevere, face this challenge and get through this in time.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos

So, the big question is – what do we do now?

We work daily toward greater health and strength.
We reach out to old volunteers and new for greater aid getting us back on track, AND
We create a system of longevity for our agency.



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