I know what you're thinking. "More Covid-19 talk?" As repetitive as some of this can feel, it's important that we stay on top of best practices and continue to support you and our clients the best way we know how through this time.

As we progress and lead through this pandemic, it still feels like there are a lot of unknowns. However, we still continue to learn more and discover some steps that we can take based on our findings, as well as our experience in other crises and our knowledge on human behavior.

As you continue through yet another week of this unpredictable pandemic, here are a few things we believe will help you not only survive but thrive.

1. Focus on your most strategic opportunities

When we’re leading during a crisis, we tend to expend a ton of energy on managing stress and putting out fires. I’m sure most of us could agree that the first month of this pandemic was a whole lot of that. However, the remaining amount of time and energy at our disposal needs to be directed toward the most strategic opportunities.

 

Taking a shotgun approach and chasing a million different ideas will only drain you, confuse your team and hinder your ability to survive.

 

You have a finite amount of time and energy. Focus it on the real opportunities that will bear fruit for you in this time. It doesn’t matter if that “other” nonprofit is doing a daily video update. If you tried that and it’s not making an impact, then stop that and try something else. Experiment and measure.

 

What’s making the greatest impact and potentially moving the needle? Focus on the strategies that have the greatest potential to help your organization raise funds and survive the crisis.
 

2. Stay flexible

If there’s anything we’re learning, it’s that the nonprofits who are able to stay flexible and make adjustments as necessary are the ones coming out ahead. Period. This pandemic and the economic situations that flex with it are changing daily and often hourly.   

 

Here are a couple specific things you can do on a daily basis:

  • Monitor social media activity and trends.
  • Assess your current missional efforts and assess changing needs around you to identify any pivots that need to be made for effectivity.
  • Stay in touch with other nonprofit leaders to share and learn. // Don’t operate in complete isolation.

3. Pick up the phone
People value personal connection, especially during a time of social distancing and quarantines. A mass email is easy, but it’s not really going to connect at a personal level, especially with your most important relationships. 

Make a list of people that should get a personal phone call, and then assign the people on that list to various staff and leaders in your organization. The personal touch will go a long way toward keeping your supporters engaged, even if it’s just to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Impossible to personally call all of your donors and volunteers? No problem. Andy Stanley once said, “Do for one, what you wish you could do for all.” That’s great advice to live by during this crazy season.

4. Don’t make it about you
You’re probably still trying to figure out exactly how this crisis is going to impact your organization financially. Or maybe you’ve had to cancel a major fundraising event or it’s impacted other major programming. Honestly, this is a time of grieving for many of us as we’re having to let go of the way we thought things were going to go this year. But resist the temptation to make your messaging all about you.

Keep the focus on the people you serve or the problem you solve.

Donors respond a lot better to messaging focused on making a difference in the world than they do with messaging concerned with bottom lines.

Donald Miller, a master storyteller, says that every great story has four main characters. There’s the victim, the villain, the hero, and the guide. It’s so tempting in this season to want to position your nonprofit as the victim of this pandemic. But the victim is not who you want or really need to be!

Keeping these things top of mind will help you effectively navigate this uncertain time. While it’s challenging and trying, I think we will all look back to this time and appreciate the innovation and hard work put into adapting to a new way of operating and still making a difference.

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