Let us be honest, 2020 has been a real bear of a year. Between Covid19, the economy and who knows what else, almost every non-profit that we speak with is struggling. We have yet to engage with a non-profit organization that has not thrown its 2020 annual plan ‘out the window’. Everyone is making it up as they go along. If your reading this blog entry, I’m confident you feel the same way. However, just because you have never managed a pandemic before, does not mean you have not managed a crisis before. Just remember, that while the ‘music’ may have changed, the dance steps remain the same.
With that in mind, I want to share 5 things we are seeing which are making a huge difference for the charities that are doing it.
1. Engage your communities more, not less – Covid19 and the resulting economic uncertainties have hit hard. So hard in fact that many of the communities you serve have been severely impacted. As a leader, you need to asses how your constituent communities have been impacted and do what is within your power to address the most pressing needs. Your community needs you more, not less in this time of crisis.
2. Re-assess your revenue sources – One of the most challenging aspects of Covid19 is the impact it is having on your budget. Revenue for almost all non-profits is down. Social Distancing, high unemployment, and record lows for government revenue are the trifecta of disasters for most non-profits. Go through each of your sources of revenue and assess the likelihood of you being able to capture those funds. As an example, if your organization normally has an annual event in New York City that raises $350,000 (at a cost of $100,000), it is highly likely that you will not be able to hold that event within the next six months. If that is the case, then what needs to change in your planning for the next six months, maybe even the year? Can you find new sources to make up that lost revenue or will you need to reduce your expenditures accordingly?
3. Communicate with your network of supporters – The odds are good that things will get more difficult before they get better. As such, you need to let your network know what you are going through and how they can help. As a matter of fact, study after study indicates that it is significantly easier to ask an existing donor to give more than it is to get a new donor to give for the first time. So, make sure that you as a leader are letting everyone know what is going on and how they can help since you already have earned their support.
4. Lean on your team – Now is not the time to ‘go it alone’. Take the time to pair the right people for the right challenges. For example, who on your team is great with technology? They can help figure out how to have the best digital events. Who is great at organizing people? They should help you with your increased community engagement. You have done a great job of hiring smart team members to support you goals, now is the time to set them loose so they can rise to the challenge.
5. Plan, plan, plan – President Eisenhower once said, ‘Plans are worthless, but planning is everything’. That quote from 1957 is as relevant now as it was then. The reality is that no matter how well you plan or how hard you try; you will never be able to account for all the variables that are out there. The idea behind planning is to take a hard look at what is in front of you and to devise a stepping off point for moving forward. Then, no matter what happens, you at least have a reference point and a good understanding of the variables that you will need to take into consideration.