17 Mar Coronavirus and Fundraising – Now What? – One Week Later
By David Allen, Development for Conservation
How much could possibly change in a week?
Welcome to the new world order.
I’ve been fundraising professionally for more than 30 years. I’ve been consulting for nearly 20 and full-time for more than 10.
And for the first time as a consultant, I feel like I have no answers. Or more accurately, I have answers for the world-as-we-knew-it yesterday. And I’m scrambling for answers for the world-as-we-find-it today.
So today’s post is not about answers. It’s about philosophy. It’s about filters that will help us decide how to meet each day’s challenge(s). I’m going to offer three, but I am explicitly asking that you add to this list.
Your mother needs to hear from you. Your friends need to hear from you. Your colleagues and coworkers need to hear from you. Your donors need to hear from you as well. Tell them that you’re OK. Tell them whatever remains as some semblance of normal. Tell them what’s changed. Tell them that the mission is still relevant and that your commitment to it is unwavering. Tell them that they are needed.
And remember through all of this communication that “they” are part of the “we” you are discussing. The land trust is “their” land trust. The mission is “their” mission. And the changes are their changes, too.
To the extent possible, reach out in personal ways. Call them. “Hi. It’s David at the Land Trust. I just wanted to give you a quick update on what’s going on.” Unless you’re in one of the shuttered cities, it might still be OK to meet in person for coffee. Use good judgement, to be sure, but communicate personally instead of just institutionally.
Nature matters. Getting outside has benefits. In 1918, sunshine and fresh air were considered part of the healing process for those who were sick. It’s also a mental thing. Take a walk today. Sit by a window. Encourage your colleagues, volunteers, members, and donors to do the same.
If you can figure out a way to avoid canceling field trips and nature walks, please do. You will help yourself and your community. Stagger people at the Trailhead. Demonstrate social distancing (with good humor). Wear gloves. Have soap and water handy. And clearly tell people what to expect beforehand both to help them prepare and to encourage them to come.
In the middle of the extraordinary, reach for the ordinary. In the midst of the abnormal, reach for the normal. In the middle of fear, reach for kindness. Social distancing need not be social isolation.
Go to work at the same time, even if you are working from home. Send out the newsletter on time (assuming the printer and mail house are still open for business). Same story with the appeals. Be available. Be proactive whenever possible. Do what you can to project optimism.
Everyone has experienced being sick. For a while, every day brings new challenges. Every day feels worse. And after a time, you forget what it’s like to not be sick. Feels like you’ll never be well again.
The country is sick right now. Every day is bringing new challenges. Every day feels worse. It will be easy to forget what it’s like not to be sick. We need to remember that we will return to “well” again.
Even if it’s not “normal.”
Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry recently posted on their blog that:
There’s one truth you must anchor everything on: COVID 19 does not change the fact that your mission – your reason to exist – is important and needed. It’s very easy to lose sight of this point and get off on obsessive analysis and processing of how your “product” or offer is no comparison to this virus and the devastation it has the potential to cause.
Don’t go down this path. Instead, stop and remember why your organization exists and why, even with all of this going on now, it’s still important to support your very worthy cause.
Couldn’t have said it better.
What do YOU say? Can you add to the philosophical filters above?
Cheers, and be well!
Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay