For most branches, a major crisis is the ultimate test of its ability. It is a moment of truth, when it must be seen to perform. If it does, image and support grows; if not, both may be affected negatively.

The competences required to perform well in a crisis are the result of preparation. They come from having the right people, resources, relationships and organisation.

Crisis can be the time for a branch to grow, as shown in scenario A below. Here, the branch has increased its capabilities through the experience of the operation and has been able to increase its normal level of activity. But if a branch becomes weaker and not stronger as a result of a crisis, as shown in Scenario B, then something has gone wrong.

Scenario A and B
Tips and ideas

Both the scaling up of service delivery during a response and the scaling down that follows a response are challenging situations and can cause harm to the long-term sustainability of the branch. There are cases where outside support (technical, financial, goods), especially large inputs in crisis situations, have left National Societies and branches with structures and systems that are unsustainable.

Such situations arise from:

* Support that is not integrated into the culture and systems of the National Society and the branch

* Changes that alienate volunteers and employees or undermine a branch's resource base

* Changes in ways of working that alienate local supporters and partners

* Actions by outsiders that harm the image of the branch and impact its reputations for many years.

On the other hand, when National Societies and branches actively manage external support, crisis becomes an opportunity for growth. 

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