Accepting the New Normal

By September 18, 2020October 5th, 2020Nonprofit Management

We are now more than six months into this surreal world in which we find ourselves. Are you still waking up and trying to figure out what comes next and how long this is going to last?

Most of us development professionals like order, plans, and certainty. Without that, we are often left with a feeling of loss and even panic! Similar to the stages of grief, we are grieving the loss of our “normal” lives, and right now most of us are somewhere between depression and acceptance.

As I navigate the pandemic, I have shored up whatever resources I can to build resiliency. And, interestingly, I find myself leaning on Graham-Pelton’s core values as a way to understand and put language to what could be ambiguous feelings otherwise. Take a look below and consider doing the same.

FOCUS on what we know:

Taking strength from these certainties, we can begin to move forward with conviction.

  • We know that we are in this for the long haul
  • We know that our missions have become even more important than ever
  • We know that humans are philanthropic – that the desire to help is strong and even stronger in times of uncertainty

Plan ahead with OPTIMISM and hope:

Planning is what we do, yet making long-term plans at this time is difficult. Try dividing your year into increments and set goals for those shorter time frames. This is the moment to make those changes to the annual fund that you were thinking about: A new name? A shorter time frame? A new ask?

Capital campaigns don’t publicly launch right out of the gate. You can use this time to test your campaign fundraising readiness as you seek to gain leadership and Board approval.

Many of us have already held very successful virtual events. Take stock of those events and what worked best. Can you reach out to a larger audience, or set up more frequent and more directed events aimed at specific prospect segments?

EMPATHY never gets old:

Connections are more important now than ever, enabling us to build relationships without geographical restraints. How much easier is it to get someone on a phone or Zoom call now that everyone’s life has less distractions!?

The idea that, across the globe, we are all in this together creates a common bond that can be built upon with empathy and understanding even when individual circumstances may differ.

How cool is it to hear from the alumnus who is on the other side of the world and who you always meant to visit but never could?

Create order in a way that is AUTHENTIC to your mission:

Creating order during a time of chaos is another way to regain your sense of control while remaining focused on the mission and goals of your organization.

Review your “wish list”. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Were you planning to update your policies and procedures?
  • Did you want to rescreen your database?
  • Are you ready to enroll for that professional development opportunity?

Take advantage of time when you might have been out at meetings in order to conduct additional research or hone skills. Even perfecting your virtual meeting skills pays off in dividends when you are able to do a successful virtual solicitation!

BOLDLY celebrate and socialize the wins:

This is a time for solidarity and community. It is okay to share those wins!

The successful asks, the community-building events, the incredible things your community is doing to support one another, the uplifting stories and the heartbreaking ones — they all underscore how important community, human connection, and philanthropy (which is defined as goodwill to the human race) are, especially now. We are here for each other, and you – as the development professional – can orchestrate and celebrate these wins!

A sense of calm, honesty, transparency, and responsive action go a long way toward reassuring everyone that you are on top of this and that your missions remain relevant and compelling. Recognize our lack of certainty but provide a plan to overcome. You’ve got this!

Jane Narich is Senior Vice President at Graham-Pelton. Contact her by email or by calling 1-800-608-7955.

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