The Culture Conundrum

365 business leaders from both the for-profit and non-profit sectors in Richmond and Hampton Roads were surveyed about the impacts of COVID-19 on their organizations. The results were surprising: though 87% reported a loss in revenue, that is not their only concern. Instead, they say the impact of the loss of human connection both inside and outside of their organizations is of equal importance.

We call it “the culture conundrum.” How can businesses and nonprofits build meaningful connections to the coworkers in a post-COVID world where limitations on person-to-person contact will surely persist? And how can these same businesses and nonprofits extend those connections to external audiences to maintain loyalty among current customers and members, while also building new relationships?

The answer starts with clarity—of mission and purpose—and connection—to employees, clients and customers, investors and stakeholders.

It requires constant communication, inside and out. It leverages the power of story, and the importance of meaningful conversation.

The drive is not getting back to business as usual. It is getting back to business in unusual times.

Explore the full findings and examine the actionable insights that pertain to your organization.

Get information about our coalition of partners who conducted this study.

Research & Recommendations

The link below will provide you access to the full research report—and more importantly, actionable insights for your organization. Key findings include:

  • An overwhelming number of organizational leaders (90%) say that the pandemic has been a threat to their businesses, with almost as many (87%) reporting a loss in revenue. Almost half (47%) of nonprofit leaders say they are “extremely” concerned about revenue losses, while more than one third (37%) of business chiefs share that level of concern.
  • Among their top priorities, a sizeable percentage of workplace leaders say they are focused on the culture and communications of their organizations. Nine in 10 (88%) execs say they are working on engaging with employees to build morale. Almost as many (84%) indicate that they are working on improving their communication with internal and external stakeholders. Other priorities include improving products and services (88%) and searching for new revenue sources (81%).
  • The mindset that best characterizes their current emotions is “determined,” with 89% of survey respondents indicating that they feel that way either “always” or “often.” While 73% admit to being concerned and 62% to feeling stressed, almost as many (58%) said they were confident, with 43% asserting they were optimistic.

The research tells a story of the virus’s impact in qualitative terms, but there are real human stories behind these statistics, stories of hardship and struggle but also stories of resilience and perseverance. It’s heartening to see the focus that leaders are placing on the pandemic’s impact on the connections that we used to take for granted. There is a growing recognition that so much of an organization’s mission, purpose and culture are tied to the capacity to interact with each other.

Download the report

About the research partners

The Culture Conundrum research and recommendations were an effort by a coalition of partners who work with nonprofits and businesses to support purpose, culture and communication in a variety of ways. To learn more about these partners—and how they may help your organization address its own culture conundrum—click the logos to visit their own web sites.

Brand Planning is a full-service marketing research firm with a special expertise in the development of brand positioning and messaging strategies that resonate with target audiences and make our clients’ brands stand out in the marketplace. Founded in 2002 by Dr. Cleve Corlett, Brand Planning works with companies ranging from regional organizations to multi-national corporations and takes marketing research to a more strategic and actionable level.


The Community Foundation for a greater Richmond is a leading partner and advocate for philanthropy and service in the Richmond region. Founded in 1968, they have built a strong legacy of helping people and institutions give back with passion and purpose, thereby building the capacity of the sector and improving lives. Today, it manages more than 1,200 charitable funds and is the largest community foundation in Virginia.


Headquartered in Richmond, Va., Elevation is an integrated marketing firm dedicated to elevating the brands of clients through creative and strategic excellence. Founded in 2001, Elevation delivers a higher level of thinking and a higher level of service, helping clients achieve a higher level of success.


Floricane is a Richmond, Va. consulting firm that provides strategic planning, leadership development, and organizational change and engagement for businesses, nonprofit organizations and communities.


Richmond-based The Hodges Partnership is a strategic communications firm helping clients tell their stories and raise their visibility through media relations, content marketing, social media and other public relations tactics.


Virginia Business is the only publication dedicated to covering economic activity in every sector and every region of the state of Virginia. Since its creation, the magazine has won awards, attracted readers and established a reputation as a “must read” in order to stay abreast of commercial events throughout the commonwealth.


Regional Survey of Virginia Business Leaders

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