This field report explores how nonlocal grassroots organizations provided effective and quick responses during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan and surrounding regions. Despite the lack of resources and local connections, they were able to overcome administrative failures and provide quick responses to the crisis. Built on a researcher-practitioner collaborative action research project, three strategies facilitating grassroots organizations' quick and effective responses are analyzed and discussed: putting pandemic relief as the strategic priority of their organizations, leveraging social media platforms to scale up existing organizational networks and foster cross-sector collaboration, and effective online trust-building. As COVID-19 unprecedently pushes nonprofits to transform how they deliver services and engage stakeholders, these findings have important policy and theoretical implications for an expanded view of how nonprofits may engage in disaster responses and how public and private funders may shift their funding strategies to cultivate such capacities of grassroots nonprofits.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The collection of the data used in this study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and supported by the Ginkgo Foundation. We deeply appreciate the action research team, the staff, volunteers, and interns at the Gingko Foundation who played key roles in conducting the interviews, provided valuable feedbacks to our ideas, and wholeheartedly supported our research. More than the usual thanks go to the grassroots nonprofit leaders participating in this research—they are the true heroes in this unprecedented crisis. We also wish to thank Dr. Jiangang Zhu and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this article.
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- administrative failure
- disaster responses
- grassroots nonprofit organization
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article