“How are you doing?” You’ve probably asked and been asked this question more in the last 13 months than in the rest of your lifetime.
You’ve probably already read, ad nauseum, about what we’ve all been through together over the last year, so I’m not going to spend any of your time going over 2020.
But as front-line fundraisers, what have we learned from all of this? Here are my thoughts:
- Even when confronted with a global crisis, mass unemployment, death and sickness, exposing systematic racial and gender injustice, people are still abundantly generous.
- Technology is a blessing and a curse — Donors still gave millions of dollars when asked over a Zoom or phone call… even through text. Everyone was leery about this before; now we’re not. This opens up a new world for you as a frontline fundraiser. However, it’s also exhausting to be in Zoom meetings all day. Like, very exhausting.
- Events are not critical to major gifts — You realized that actually relating to donors and developing relationships yields greater net revenue. If you work at an events-heavy non-profit, you realized you needed to change your approach.
- Related — you started discovering your donor’s passions and interests… AND donors were eager to talk with you. There was something magical about talking to your donor on a screen; they were more vulnerable and open to you. This led to more significant gifts because you matched those passions and interests with specific programs and projects you run.
- Non-profits diversified revenue sources — I mean, because now you were forced to figure out something new, you did. Can’t do your 5K? Let’s do a virtual town hall instead and get donors and leadership together and start asking for transformational gifts, not transactional. Government grants dried up; let’s start building relationships with private foundations.
- YOU are resilient. Your life is turned upside down, kids learning from home, your kitchen table is now your home office, your pets are the star of your Zoom meetings, and yet you still managed to bring in more revenue this year from your portfolio. You’re a rock star!
So, as of today, 20% of Americans are fully vaccinated. Even though there are new strains, and this pandemic is not over, there is hope that we can see a light at the end of this tunnel.
I’m telling you, it’s not going to be the same when things get back to “normal.” You aren’t going back to the mindset you had pre-pandemic on how you did your job. But out of every tragedy comes a renewal.
You have had (and continue to go through) trauma. So allow yourself to be aware of that. Be kinder to yourself. More and faster is not always better. Sometimes you should be doing nothing.
But hold on to this concept of renewal. Perhaps, because of what you’ve been through, you now have deeper relationships with your donors. Where do you go with that? What have you learned about yourself? About your organization? How do you want to work, post-pandemic?
Sit with those questions for a while.
Then, with renewed hope, confidence and balance, continue to be the bridge between your donor’s desire to do good in the world and the needs of your organization, and be that broker of love.