Building Organizational Resilience for DV & SV Advocates

RAFT Team, April 18, 2022

Organizational resilience is an essential part of any successful advocacy organization, allowing it to withstand challenges and remain resilient in the face of adversity. It's important for leaders and advocates working with survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault to understand how organizational resilience works and what strategies they can use to build a strong foundation. 

In this blog post, we'll explore what organizational resilience is, its benefits, how leadership affects it, and various strategies that you can employ as an advocate looking to create lasting change.

Join us on our journey towards greater understanding about building up your organization’s strength! 

What Is Organizational Resilience?

Organizational resilience is "the ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper." It involves developing strategies and plans that enable an organization to quickly adapt to changing conditions and remain operational during times of crisis.

Resilience helps organizations maintain continuity in their operations despite external shocks or internal challenges.

Organizations can build resilience in a variety of way:

  • Identifying potential risks
  • Creating contingency plans
  • Investing in technology and training staff on how to use it effectively during a crisis
  • Ensure they have adequate resources available when needed
  • Review their policies regularly so they are up-to-date with current regulations and best practices.

Leadership plays a key role in organizational resilience.

Leaders must be able to identify risks early on so that appropriate measures can be taken before any damage occurs. (Learn how our research-based model helps strengthen leaders.)

Leaders must also create an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing concerns about potential threats or weaknesses within the organization’s infrastructure.

Finally, leaders need to make sure everyone is aware of emergency protocols so they know what steps need to be taken if a disruption does occur.

Organizational resilience is essential for any business or nonprofit. 

It allows them to remain operational even when faced with unexpected disruptions like we've faced with Covid-19. Other disruptions include natural disasters, power outages, or maintenance on your facility.

By taking proactive steps like creating contingency plans and investing in technology solutions, organizations can ensure they are prepared for whatever comes their way—ultimately increasing their chances of success over time.

Organizational resilience is essential for the long-term success of any organization, and can help DV and SV advocates build a more sustainable practice. Moving on, let's look at some of the benefits of organizational resilience.

Benefits of Organizational Resilience

Organizational resilience is a key component of any successful organization. It helps organizations reduce the impact of unexpected events on their operations, minimize disruption to services, protect staff and clients, and ensure continuity of operations. Resilience also builds trust with stakeholders by demonstrating an organization’s commitment to safety and security.

Improved Client Service

One major benefit of organizational resilience is improved client service. By being prepared for potential disruptions or crises, organizations can respond quickly and effectively to client needs while minimizing downtime or delays in service delivery. This helps build client loyalty as well as maintain positive relationships with partners and community members.

Building individual resilience through training helps protect your staff again compassion fatigue and burnout, too!

Increased Employee Satisfaction

Another advantage of organizational resilience is increased employee satisfaction. When employees feel secure in their jobs they are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work, which leads to higher morale overall within the organization. Additionally, having a plan in place for dealing with unexpected events reduces stress levels among staff members, who know that they have support if something goes wrong or there’s an emergency situation at work.

Financial Stability

Organizational resilience also contributes positively towards financial stability by helping organizations manage risk better when it comes to investments or other business decisions that could potentially lead to losses down the line if not properly planned out beforehand. Having plans in place for responding quickly during times of crisis can help mitigate losses due to unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters or economic downturns which can affect businesses significantly if not adequately prepared for them ahead of time.

Burnout Prevention

Organizational resilience can help prevent burnout and increase job satisfaction, leading to improved morale and performance. By understanding how leadership affects organizational resilience, advocates can better support their team in providing essential services.

Key Lesson: Organizational resilience can help businesses reduce disruption to services, protect staff and customers, improve client service, increase employee satisfaction, and manage risk better.

How Leadership Affects Organizational Resilience

Leadership plays a key role in determining how resilient an organization can be. Leaders set the tone for how their team responds to adversity, and they have the power to create a culture that encourages collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving. (Learn more about the ways leadership shapes organizational culture here.)

Establishing Clear Goals & Expectations

Leaders must clearly communicate goals and expectations so that everyone on the team understands what needs to be accomplished. This helps ensure that all members are working towards a common goal with shared understanding of what success looks like. Additionally, it allows leaders to measure progress against those goals over time, which can help them identify areas where additional resources may be needed, or adjustments need to be made in order for teams to reach their objectives.

Building Trust & Collaboration

Trust between leaders and employees is essential for organizational resilience as it creates an atmosphere of openness and respect which encourages collaboration among team members. When trust exists within an organization, employees feel comfortable sharing ideas without fear of criticism or judgement; this leads to more creative solutions being developed which can help organizations adapt quickly when faced with unexpected challenges or changes in their environment. Leaders should also foster relationships between different departments so that teams are able to work together effectively when necessary - this will enable them to respond faster during times of crisis as well as build stronger connections across departments over time, leading to increased efficiency overall.

Encouraging Innovation & Risk Taking

Innovation is critical for organizational resilience because it allows organizations to stay ahead of client needs by continuously developing new products or services or finding ways to improve existing ones. This helps ensure they remain competitive even if market conditions change suddenly due to external factors such as economic downturns, etc.

To encourage innovation, leaders should provide opportunities for employees to take risks without fear of failure; this will allow them to explore different ideas without worrying about repercussions if something doesn’t go according plan (which often happens).

Additionally, providing rewards and recognition for those who come up with successful innovations will further motivate others to try out new things even if there is potential risk involved - ultimately leading to greater creativity throughout the entire organization.

Leadership plays a critical role in creating an organizational culture that promotes resilience. By understanding the strategies for building organizational resilience, leaders can create an environment where advocates are supported and empowered to make lasting positive change.

Key Lesson: Leaders must foster a culture of trust, collaboration and innovation to build organizational resilience. This can be achieved by: 1) Establishing clear goals & expectations; 2) Building trust & collaboration; 3) Encouraging innovation & risk taking.

Strategies for Building Organizational Resilience

It involves having a comprehensive plan in place that can help organizations prepare for potential disruptions and minimize their impact.

Risk Assessment: Organizations should assess the risks they face on a regular basis. This includes identifying potential threats such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or other disruptions that could affect operations. Once these risks have been identified, organizations should develop strategies for mitigating them.

Emergency Response Planning: Organizations should create emergency response plans that outline how they will respond in the event of an emergency or disruption. These plans should include steps for responding to different types of incidents as well as protocols for communication with staff members and stakeholders during an incident. Additionally, organizations should conduct regular drills so staff are familiar with procedures in case of an emergency situation.

Training & Drills: Training is essential when it comes to organizational resilience because it helps ensure employees know what actions need to be taken if something goes wrong. Regular drills can also help identify any gaps in knowledge or processes so they can be addressed before an actual incident occurs.

Providing tools to build resilience in Advocates and teams can be a key component in building a resilient overall workplace. We offer these trainings at no charge — contact us to learn more at

Communication Protocols: Communication protocols are important when dealing with emergencies because they ensure everyone involved knows who needs to be contacted and what information needs to be shared during a crisis situation. Having clear communication protocols also ensures everyone is on the same page when it comes time to take action during a disruption event.

After an incident has occurred, organizations must have procedures in place for restoring operations quickly while minimizing further damage or losses due to downtime or data loss/corruption caused by the incident itself. This may involve investing in technology solutions such as cloud computing systems which allow businesses access their data remotely even if their physical infrastructure has been damaged due to unforeseen circumstances like fires or floods etc.

Key Lesson: Organizational resilience involves risk assessment, emergency response planning, training & drills, and communication protocols to quickly respond to unexpected events or changes.

FAQs in Relation to Organizational Resilience

What makes an organization resilient?

It involves having a clear understanding of potential risks and threats as well as strategies in place to address them. Resilience also requires strong leadership that can guide an organization through difficult times while providing support and resources for staff members who may be affected by traumatic events.

Finally, organizational resilience relies on effective communication between all stakeholders so that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities during a crisis situation. By taking these steps, organizations can build a culture of resilience that will help them weather any storm they face.

How do you build organizational resilience?

Organizational resilience is built through a combination of self-care and professional development. Self-care includes activities such as taking breaks, engaging in physical activity, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and spending time with family or friends.

Professional development involves training on topics related to the work being done (e.g., domestic violence and sexual violence advocacy) and developing skills to help manage stressors associated with this type of work like burnout, strong boundaries, and compassion fatigue.

Additionally, organizations should strive for an environment that encourages open dialogue about mental health issues among staff members so they can support each other in times of need.

Why is organizational resilience important?

Organizational resilience is essential for any organization that works with individuals who have experienced trauma. It helps to ensure that the staff and volunteers remain emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy while providing support to those in need.

Resilience can help prevent burnout by allowing advocates to recognize their own needs and take steps to manage stress before it becomes overwhelming.

Additionally, organizational resilience can foster a culture of self-care among advocates, so they are better equipped to provide quality services without sacrificing their own wellbeing.

What are the elements of organizational resilience?

Organizational resilience is the ability of an organization to effectively respond, adapt and recover from unexpected or difficult situations. It involves having a strong culture of safety, trust, and collaboration; clear communication channels; effective leadership that encourages creativity and innovation; well-defined processes for decision making; adequate resources to support staff in their work; strategies for managing stress levels among employees; access to training opportunities and professional development programs.

Additionally, organizational resilience also requires a focus on self-care practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga or other forms of relaxation techniques. All these elements are essential for organizations to build resilience against compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout.


Organizational resilience is an important factor in preventing burnout and compassion fatigue for domestic violence and sexual violence advocates. By understanding the benefits of organizational resilience, how leadership affects it, and implementing strategies to build it, organizations can create a supportive environment that helps protect their staff from burnout.

Organizations should strive to prioritize organizational resilience as part of their overall mission in order to ensure the health and well-being of those who work tirelessly on behalf of survivors.

We must take action to ensure the long-term health and resilience of those working in domestic violence and sexual violence advocacy. We can do this by supporting them with resources that help prevent compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout.

Through RAFT's innovative approach we can equip advocates with strategies for building organizational resilience, so they are better equipped to provide safe havens for survivors of abuse.

Join us today in helping create a world where everyone is free from all forms of violence!