Sustaining Hope and Telling the Truth

Over the last week I have been thinking about leadership and what it means. I don’t subscribe to the idea that good leadership is found in either a top-down or bottom-up approach, but that it takes many forms and must be calibrated against the challenges that communities face. Over the years, I’ve observed that leadership often takes people in all spaces and on all levels using their agency and role to drive toward a collective goal. While one can debate the exact features of good leadership, one thing is true: when good leadership is missing, it is obvious and often has dire negative consequences.

For a few weeks as the pandemic began, leaders went into action mode quickly. Speed and crisis management were key. Many of us on the frontlines are still there, every day. In my conversations with organization executives, it is clear that there are many nonprofits and foundations that find themselves close to burn out: their staff’s stress is reaching a fever pitch, the ambiguity created by the crisis is exhausting, and financial uncertainties fuel constant anxiety. Amidst all this, a critical leadership question continues to surface: how do we inspire and sustain our colleagues in the face of this profound crisis that is tremendously ambiguous and unpredictable?

It is a natural leadership desire to want to provide hope and guidance and assure folks that everything will be okay, while not clinging to false hope. False hope is actually a great disservice to the human spirit. We, as leaders, must strive to find possibility, learning, and transformation amidst loss, struggle, and a tremendous amount of ambiguity. In times like this I believe truth, clarity, and a connection to the values that initially motivated each of us to take up this work will best serve our colleagues more than anything.

We hope you consider Independent Sector a partner in balancing our collective transformation and connection to our shared values. Our weekly slate of free events and resources is among the ways we are providing guidance through this time. This week, we have teamed up with other organizations to provide information on cyber security and the remote workplace, sustaining volunteerism during this time, and deliver the latest edition of our public policy town hall series, This Week in Washington on Thursday, which will feature a legislative assistant for Rep. Seth Moulton. Learn more at

Lastly, we know many of you are tracking closely what is happening on Capitol Hill. We continue to field an incredible amount of questions through our new CARES Act chat bot, which will help you navigate through the resources we make available to help you apply for relief funds. We have also heard that the House may release their version of a second CARES Act package as early as this week. During our ongoing discussions with our colleagues on the Hill, we will continue to advocate that Congress prioritize nonprofits and the communities we serve. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

May you have a balanced and hopeful week ahead, and don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be helpful to you and your organization.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Civil Society, Congress, COVID-19 Response, Data, Public Policy, Voices for Good, Volunteerism