Imagine yourself on a rainy night looking for the closest petrol station. Your fuel gauge has indicated an amber sign of low petrol available in your petrol tank. You kind of estimated you probably can go another 20 minutes before the car will come to a complete halt. The road is wet, there are no streetlights and your vision is where your car lights are projecting itself. You can see on either side some faint light indicating there are people staying on both sides of the road. There is not a single car coming your way or behind you.
You drive on. And on. You are panicking. Your mind is 90% focussed on the fuel left in your car and 10% on finding the next available petrol station. You reach out for your mobile only to find it is low on battery and your car charger is not working.
You call home and there is no answer. Your call goes to voicemail.
Just then you see something ahead and it looks like a petrol station. You get closer, only to realise IT IS a petrol station. But something is not right. You soon discover, it's not a 24/7 petrol station. You drive pass, this time you can only pray.
Ever faced this kind of consequence in your work life?
You know what is even more interesting, when you relate this episode to your office mates, as if you were asking for help there and then, you are suddenly barraged with comments or advice such as, "why didn't you at least stop at the station, maybe the electricity was cut-off then", or "there was actually a 7eleven only a few metres away which could have helped you grab a taxi to buy petrol close by".
In the nonprofit world, everyone outside your cause is an expert in what you do and they can advise you to be better and be smarter at how you do it. This is the reality. They will never know what it is like to be the driver driving alone on a rainy night looking for help. Only you will know.
So what do we need to do on those rainy nights. My suggestion is to "Prepare, Prepare and Prepare".
We need an umbrella, our phone needs to work and we should have a charger, some food, a blanket, first aid kit, GPS, and a canister of petrol that carries 1/3 to 1/2 a tank of petrol. But here's the scenario.
Most nonprofits can't afford or even even have a SOP of what the should or should not do. So how do they enforce. A lot of what happens, happens all too suddenly or without any notion.
So how does an organisation ensure it is prepared and ready and most of all able to cope.
The management needs to trained, educated, groomed and most of all be among those who have experienced such situations. There should be a space for a chance for dialogue or sharing of one's issues. There are such opportunities to learn how to prepare, prepare and prepare.
Only someone or some organisation from the outside can set this space and allow one to learn.