Many of us who work in philanthropy are really struggling right now. Professionally, 70% of charities across the US have seen a sharp decline in revenue. Almost 20% have seen a decline of 50% of more. Additionally, you may be dealing with the personal challenge of balancing work with having kids at home 24/7 or supporting loved ones who are battling COVID right now.
All in all, this “new normal” that everyone seems to be speaking about can seem very overwhelming and extremely stressful. But still, there is a lot that you can do to navigate this season well and reshape how you engage with donors, volunteers, and your own team in the age of COVID. Here are three great things that you can do this year which could become a big win for your long-term future:
Perfect your online experience this year. Over the summer we’ve seen a few charities get “lucky” in that they were able to host some of their summer events in person but that has largely been the exception, not the rule. Most organizations are having to move their events online for the foreseeable future. This represents a great opportunity to change how you host future events. What if you could create a blended experience in 2021? Some of your donors may prefer to attend online in the future. Instead of dressing up they may prefer to have a glass of wine and sit in front of a screen next year. Where you traditionally had an event that catered to 2-300 patrons maybe you only need 100 people in the room next year? Imagine a world where you can mix a “digital gala” with an “in person” element? Your cost per event goes down but your reach grows 2-3x. It starts with having an amazing experience this year.
Grow your volunteer corps this year. Right now there are so many talented people who are no longer working. The reality is that some folks may decide they no longer want to work full time, but they will want to put their skills and experience to use. A former Marketing Director may want to spend more time with her kids instead of sending them back to a school that is struggling to safely reopen. Or maybe there is a software engineer out there who is trying to find a new job in a very competitive job market. He may want to work on a passion project for the next few months. Whatever the scenario, there has never been a better time to engage some highly talented people to help move your organization forward.
Decide whether or not to stay permanently remote team this year. There is a lot of debate around the benefits of staying remote when this is all said and done. In philanthropy not every service can remain remote but for the elements of your team that can, it represents significant cost savings. It also enables you to increase your search for new candidates. Where you were previously limited to a single city you can now look for talent in bigger markets. There are benefits and drawbacks to both but have those conversations this year. Test it out this year. Make the decisions this year so that your team knows what direction they will be rowing in.