07 Apr Coronavirus and Fundraising – Testing Our Sustainability
By David Allen, Development for Conservation
First off, I hope that you, your family, and your extended family is well and stays that way. Hunker down, wash your hands, stay six feet away from others. Stay well.
Me? I’m doing fine and my family is safe for now. Thank you for asking. But the barbershop is closed, and my hair is getting really long.
We’ll get through this.
Today, I want to talk about what “getting through this” actually looks like. I’m not a pessimist. My rose-colored glasses are normally at least half full.
But it’s time – now – to look at what’s real, and make plans accordingly.
And what’s real is that 2020 is probably toast.
What’s real is that I’m probably going to have to learn to cut my own hair.
A question I get asked a lot is about postponing things.
We have an Annual Meeting in June. Would you recommend that we postpone it? ‘Til September?
We postponed our May Gala. When do you think we should try to host it?
We WILL come out the other side of COVID. People WILL travel again, gather again, and go back to work.
But not until we have these three things:
- Widespread, cheap, effective testing with fairly immediate results. We need to be able to self-administer a test as easily as a pregnancy test. Oops! Positive. That counts me out for the Annual Meeting. Time to buy chicken soup and saltines. Alert the clinic – I might need help these next two weeks.
- A reliable vaccine. And not something rushed to market, either. We need to be able to line up for COVID shots and have a reasonable assurance that they will work. That we can fight off any future exposure to the virus using just our immune systems.
- Lack of fear when going out that everything we touch is going to kill us.
The tests may be available in the next several months. The vaccine may take 9-12 months to develop and 4-6 months after that to produce and distribute – minimally summer of 2021 – before it is widely available.
Personal interactions without fear may take even longer.
Look at it this way: the scientists are telling us that social distancing will lower the curve. But it won’t make the virus less transferrable. Lowering the curve is great, but we also need to talk about cutting off the curve’s tail, and that won’t happen without a vaccine.
That’s the reality. Time to figure other stuff out. Time for plan B.
We can’t wait for all this to blow over. We can’t sit at home waiting for the All Clear. We must get back to work in any and every way we can. We MUST assume that it will be 12-18 months before we can reschedule that which we have “postponed.”
- Time to stop thinking about your Annual Meeting and Gala events as “postponed.” Time to cancel them altogether or figure out how to get them done virtually. (I’m about to test doing a campaign Feasibility Study without meeting any donors in person. – Wish me luck!)
- Time to pull the plug on Rally – not going to happen this year.
- Time to get really good at Board and committee meetings using Zoom or Skype or GoToMeeting. (Time to think about purchasing Chromebooks for your older Board members – and being patient while they learn to use them.)
- Time to develop a Strategic Plan to help you get through 2020 and possibly 2021 without being able to gather or travel.
- Time to buy shears.
- Time to assume that we are not returning to “normal” anytime soon. We’re going to need creativity and can-do spirit. We’re going to need resilience.
- Time to test your organizational sustainability.
I’d love to be wrong – I hope like hell I’m wrong. There won’t be record pandemic deaths in the next three weeks. I won’t get sick. My family won’t get sick. And none of you and yours will get sick either. Wide-spread testing will be available by next Friday with a reliable vaccine widely available by August – confidence in traveling and gathering fully returned by September. Fall events – postponed from this Spring – will raise record amounts of money. And we’ll have record attendance at Rally in Portland in October.
But I don’t believe that. You don’t either.
We should know a lot more in 4-6 weeks. But let’s agree not to wait for that. Let’s assume that “back to normal” is at least a year away. Use the time NOW to make plans to hit the (virtual) ground running in May.
What’s your Plan B?
Cheers, and be well!
PS: I live in Wisconsin, so today is Election Day (insanely). And I am a pollworker. If I don’t get to your comments right away this morning, that’s the reason. Please DO leave your thoughts. Let me (all of us) know how you’re doing. I’ll approve them as soon as I can this afternoon.
PS: Why did the need to cut my own hair have to coincide with the advent of video conferencing?
Photo by Travel Photographer from Stocksnap.io