The end of the year is around the corner—the single biggest fundraising opportunity of the year! Just how much year-end philanthropic giving will be impacted this year by current events is impossible to know.
In the fundraising forums that I am part of, I often run across the phrase, “We’ve been here before.” I beg to differ! We have not been here before.
With the current events of the past five months, the world is learning how to overcome the discomfort of talking about race and are having some real courageous conversations on how we can move forward together to create lasting change for people of color. This change will create a ripple effect where others who have been marginalized will benefit and increase their ability to thrive as well – no one is left behind.
It was Machiavelli who first advised “never waste a good crisis.” By that he meant one could look at the opportunities afforded by a crisis to change, to innovate and to improve.
To paraphrase Machiavelli, we advise “never waste a good pause.” Whether it’s a lull in activity or a forced rethinking of business-as-usual, most nonprofits are experiencing a “pandemic pause.” At minimum, everyone should take a moment to consider how to effectively navigate in the new normal. For those who are experiencing a pause, the silver lining is that we can utilize this time to strategically prepare for the future.
We can explore ways to embrace the pandemic pause to PAUSE:
Looking for a way to make your organization’s strategic planning exciting and more relatable? Having a difficult time explaining strategic planning terminology?
Fasten your seatbelt, Toto. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
At first glance, The Wizard of Oz—the widely beloved children’s book by Frank L. Baum, the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, and countless other adaptations for stage and screen—may seem to have little to do with strategic planning: the process through which organizations define their long-term vision and identify strategies and action steps to achieve that vision.
Although the two may seem to be unlikely companions, there is actually a lot we can glean from The Wizard of Oz about strategic planning.
On Wednesday, June 17, The Alford Group hosted a panel of national experts and funders to discuss Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy in 2019 in light of current realities, new opportunities and our future as non-profit staff, funders and philanthropists. The full discussion, along with The Alford Group’s Giving USA report, may be found here.
As Brenda Asare, The Alford Group’s President and CEO, noted as she opened the panel discussion, we all had high hopes for 2020 – momentum within the sector was strong and anticipated to continue at the close of 2019 and through 2020. Of course, no one knew what was coming nor how incredibly important that cushion would be to the survival of many nonprofits. As leaders representing funders and philanthropists across the country, Laura, Marguerite, Steve and Beth offered critical insights into philanthropy today and provided some hope as Brenda said “we must look up and ahead, as that is where we are all going.”
Every organization is approaching and responding to COVID-19 differently, but regardless of the approach – certainly, all have been considering what fundraising will look like in the coming months and year. We know a rough road lies ahead and no one can predict what this recovery will look like; however, there is some good news.
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy tracks giving during disasters, and what they’ve seen so far with COVID-19 is record levels of seven-figure gifts being made to organizations. America is being more generous than ever.
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” – Mr.Fred Rogers
Our country is facing challenging times as never before due to COVID-19. Fortunately, our nonprofit sector is rising to the occasion by responding in innovative ways to meet unprecedented demand for services. Less visible, but no less critical, is the rapid adoption of technologies for delivering programs, and quickly pivoting fundraising strategies to mitigate revenue loses.
Many organizations are also engaged in major campaigns to address important needs in their communities. Some have hit – or are considering hitting – the pause button, while others are modifying campaign plans and moving forward in new and creative ways.
A Message from Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, The Alford Group
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created unexpected challenges and new daily realities for your organization. While this is uncharted territory for all of us, we know that the need for your services and programs continues and The Alford Group stands ready to be your partner through this difficult time.
One reality that is not new is that Americans are generous – in good times and bad. That history of generosity has enabled us to weather challenges and come through difficult times stronger.
In recent meetings with many organizations we are helping clients navigate and create strategic approaches to meet increased demands for services, pivot on special events and engage with donors in meaningful ways. Over the past 40 years, The Alford Group has helped our clients navigate through national crisis, economic downturns and organizational challenges.
The most important thing to remember is that your donors and volunteers care about you and your mission. They want to know how they can help your organization. Here are some proactive steps – and specific strategies being implemented by our clients – to consider.
Guest blog by Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President, DonorSearch
Are you frustrated that your fundraising efforts don’t have your desired result? That’s okay! It’s good to be frustrated at your fundraising campaigns because that means you have not only identified a problem, but you are willing and ready to make some changes to fix it. (You should be worried if your team seems unconcerned that your organization isn’t yielding as much revenue as it could!)