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Preparedness for a Disruptive Event

By: Rob Jordan

I was stationed in Ukraine during my Peace Corps service between 1998 and 2000. Many of the challenges the community faced during my service included the bombing of former Yugoslavia, Y2K, hyperinflation, and systemic corruption. These were disruptive to the success of Ukrainian development and inhibited growth. Reflecting on my time as a volunteer, it’s clear that while our intentions were good, we lacked the tools and proper foundation to support Ukraine effectively. This was what motivated me to found Idealist Consulting. We are a team of consultants dedicated to supporting nonprofits working with the world's most vulnerable. I now find myself reflecting on how to support Ukraine as a Returning Peace Corps Volunteer. 

Nonprofits often need to perform and adjust at an accelerated rate. The most notable catalysts are what the private sector refers to as “Disruptive Events”. Disruptive Events are defined as, “organizational-wide emergencies and disasters which are not covered by routine measures” and are generally caused by natural or artificial circumstances. 

Humanitarian crises are significant among these events as they often transcend geography and affect the global community on an emotional, economic, or environmental level. While these crises are not new, they are accelerating. In our fifteen years of engaging with humanitarian organizations, we have identified three fundamental systems necessary for nonprofits to have maximum impact. 

Rapid Process Scalability & Adjustment:

As a result of the war in Ukraine, many nonprofits like our client The International Rescue Committee, have rapidly scaled and adjusted their operations in order to meet emerging needs. To manage this rapid growth and shift, solutions that allow a nonprofit to pivot quickly are paramount. Selecting a dynamic platform with a rich support community capable of quick integration will be essential for an organization addressing any Disruptive Event. 

Expeditious Outreach & Messaging:

During a humanitarian crisis, every organization from a nonprofit to a corporation, sends messages of support to their constituency. While these may be well-intended, as seen in messages from dating app Bumble, they can also divert attention from nonprofits working on the front lines. As a result, nonprofits need to enhance their outreach with effective marketing and storytelling. Preparing their messaging channels before the crisis occurs allows them to broadcast their message quickly and effectively. They are then able to cut through the marketing noise that accompanies all humanitarian crises. For example, with prior preparation, World Food Programme was able to deliver compelling messaging using automated marketing tools as the crisis unfolded in Ukraine.

Accelerated Fund Tracking & Management:

No matter the organization’s size, it will need to secure funding quickly when a crisis occurs. Scouting, tracking, and managing these funds is no easy task due to the often narrow window of giving during times of disruption. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service recognized this need and ramped up quickly to accommodate one of their largest fundraising efforts to date. This process requires a properly developed CRM that can scale quickly. It goes without saying that any humanitarian crisis is overwhelming not only for those at risk but also for those facilitating support. Donors will be looking for ways to contribute in what may feel like a helpless situation. Being prepared for the influx of that support will help organizations carry out their objectives successfully. 


If you are interested in supporting a mission providing aid in Ukraine, please consider the organizations below:

International Rescue Committee

World Food Programme

Lutheran Immigration Services

We would like to thank our clients for all of the incredible work they are doing. We are privileged to be able to support their missions. 


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