We are all gobsmacked, scared, shocked, trying not to panic. And yet, if we had really been paying attention to the realities of late 2019 and early 2020, we shouldn't be. The signs of an emerging pandemic have been evident since around the Christmas season.
So what does it mean for fundraisers? We are revenue generators, first and foremost. The nation's anemic response to this crisis is creating greater fear and panic, and development folks are actually feeling embarrassed to ask donors to give.
Let's all take a collective deep cleansing breath and pause our panic. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross famously talked about the cycle of grief.
We are right there in the thick of it, between anger and depression. So are our donors.
So what's the first thing we should do as development professionals? Reach out to our donors, ask them how they are doing, how they are processing this journey, and thank them for their past support. It's simple, really, but something we might neglect when our own state of mind isn't the greatest. Being thankful, practicing gratitude can have a beneficial impact on our brain chemistry, and it's easy to let our donors know we are grateful forthem.
Next, do not panic. We all remember 2008-09 and what happened thereafter. Remember we recovered, and we will recover from this. Most major donors are relatively nonplussed by market fluctuations and you can see the Dow is already correcting itself (on some days at least!)
If you're in a capital campaign, it might be wise to put it on pause for the next several months. Don't worry about losing momentum. Take the time to evaluate your donor base and clean up your donor data. Invest in your organizational infrastructure. And focus on general operating funding, especially if you've had to close your doors.
Don't indulge in magical thinking. This pandemic will not miraculously disappear in the next few weeks. If anything, it will probably ebb and flow for awhile. We may have several cycles of sheltering in place, and other times when the virus seems to ebb for awhile. This novel "bug" is still quite unknown and virologists and infectious disease specialists are trying to learn all they can about it.
This is a time to re-evaluate our organizations, our assumptions, ourselves. It's time for innovative thinking even while we're in "hunkering down" mode.
We will, by God's grace, get through this.
Here are other great articles to help you and your ministry during this time: