“Life is neither static nor unchanging. With no individuality, there can be no change, no adaptation and, in an inherently changing world, any species unable to adapt is also doomed.” ― Jean M. Auel

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined. But it has also taught us an important lesson: we have to learn to embrace change and adapt to it. Because change is the only constant. 

Businesses across the world have been forced to change and adapt in these uncertain times. The nonprofit sector is no exception. Many development organizations have closed down due to low funds. And others are staring at an uncertain future. 

So it’s time to rethink what development professionals need to do to not just survive but also thrive in the future. I have a few suggestions for development professionals in the post-COVID world.

Development organizations have made important contributions to society over the years. During the pandemic, civil society and other grassroots organizations have played an especially critical role in helping people with funds and other basic needs such as food, clothing and medicines. 

But they have also been struggling to survive in recent years. The lack of funds has pushed many to shut shop or reduce operations. The lockdown has only added to their difficulties. Development workers are unable to connect and engage well on the ground. This has led to mismanagement and collaborative gaps among stakeholders. Moreover, organizations with old financial and administrative systems are struggling to cope with the new digital era. 

The inability to adapt to the new way of functioning will harm such organizations in the long run. As these are changing times, they need to keep pace by revamping their operations. 

Although the goals and purpose of the development sector remain the same, the skills required to meet the need of the hour are changing. 

Recruiters are now looking for creative professionals for the sector. To begin with, development professionals must have remote working skills. A large percentage of employees are working from home because of the pandemic. Organizations are likely to continue to operate digitally both for safety reasons and because of low budgets. Teams will have to work and collaborate online. 

Computer skills are essential in an era where most development professionals, clients and other stakeholders are connecting online. Secondly, digital punctuality is crucial for good performance. Working from home is not easy and we tend to be distracted. One must be able to manage their time and be ready to work in a disciplined manner. For example, being on time for online meetings on platforms such as Zoom is important. 

Additionally, the internet, especially social media platforms, helps development professionals connect with a larger group of like-minded people to raise funds and support social causes in such uncertain times. Applications such as Canva, Microsoft Office, Photoshop and WordPress will play a larger role in this digital age. 

Development professionals need the ability to develop a communication strategy through the new medium. Open collaborations and partnerships are on the rise. It is a time when everyone is seeking aid and wants to achieve their goals. Lastly, many established organizations have to work with communities that are not digitally empowered and will have to create innovative strategies to deal with their issues.

The current situation is slowly transitioning into a digital age and we all need to adapt to a new normal. The need for more creative development professionals is on the rise. Only if we equip ourselves with the necessary skills will we succeed as development professionals and work efficiently in this new era.

Aparajita Amita Mathew is doing a Postgraduate Program in Development Management at the Indian School of Development Management (ISDM). She is one of a group of 37 ISDM students who recently took eight Harappa courses. This blog on the skills that development sector professionals need in a post-COVID world was part of an assignment for a communication course.

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