Ghostwritten for Centre for Social Innovation CEO Tonya Surman:
A lot of people might think a pandemic would be the end of a non-profit social enterprise space. And it’s a fair concern; COVID-19 hit us hard. One day we were sailing along all scrappy and hunky dory, and the next — just like so many of you — we’d lost a huge chunk of our revenue but still had the expense of mortgage payments and staff salaries.
Disaster, right? Well, maybe not.
CSI has always been much more than a physical space. We’re a community. So when the realities of COVID-19 sunk in, our first thoughts were of our members and how we could help them get through it.
As a first step, we conducted a survey to see how they were faring. Among other questions, we asked what their desired rent or membership arrangement would be to help them through these unprecedented times
The answers we got — collected in our CSI COVID-19 Impact Report — were grim but unsurprising. Fewer than half of our members felt they would be able to continue paying their full rent amounts.
So, what do you do? And how do you actually live your values when faced with a situation none of us had ever even imagined?
I actually believe that how all of us conduct ourselves during this pandemic will define how we are judged for years. And so we said to ourselves: This is our community. These are our constituents. These are the people we serve.