By Mary Moss, Partner.
It’s 2021. The hope for a bright and shiny new year was dashed with images from January 6th at the U.S Capitol. An already beleaguered nation that is dealing with issues of life and death – the pandemic, racial inequity, and economic insecurity – is struggling to come to terms with how the first week in January affects the rest of this year and beyond. At moss+ross, we hold fast to our mission to support nonprofits in their missions, amid growing crises. Hope lives brightly on the horizon. Working together, through the toughest of times, we will find ways to get there. Phase I-B for vaccine distribution has been announced, and we are better positioned to address open festering wounds in racial justice and democracy. We will be stronger working together on these issues.
For fundraisers and nonprofit leaders, it is difficult to gain perspective on what we did or did not accomplish in 2020 when so much is still swirling. As we begin the new year, be kind to yourselves and bring forward the good lessons of 2020, even as new challenges emerge. Stay focused.
1. Lead with empathy, followed by action. The pandemic has cost lives and livelihoods, and has created new needs. The events of last year exposed many people to the work necessary to address racial and social injustices. Use empathy as your filter, and then define specific steps you must take to meet your mission in ways that reflect new realities.
2. Focus on the big thing – your mission. Double down on what you are doing that is working. Steer clear of mission creep unless it makes sense. Your organization may have pivoted to offer new services or had to redefine and strengthen current services. Perhaps, your nonprofit is now even stronger in mission and resources.
3. Remember: no money, no mission. Not for every nonprofit, but for many, fundraising has been positive during these challenging times. Drill down on who is giving and why, and reinforce your pipeline of donors. Create your list of top prospects now, and work the list.
4. Set aside time to plan. If you already have a plan, set aside time to review it. If you do not, create a written development plan that outlines your goals for the next 6-12 months. Hold yourself and your team accountable for these goals and track progress. Plans do not come from a spreadsheet or a one-page narrative. They come from a process that involves key stakeholders. If ever there were a time to have a plan, now is it.
5. Practice extreme gratitude. Acknowledge your donors appropriately. Do not forget those who have stepped up to help you. Pre-COVID, we saw how hurricane donors were forgotten after the need diminished, and donor retention plummeted. Look at your donors, at all levels, and make a plan for an appropriate acknowledgment. I have written about extreme stewardship throughout the pandemic, and now I am addressing extreme gratitude. Stay away from the “thask” – thanking while asking. Be authentic, pick up the phone, write a letter, and let those who care about you know you care about them.
Nonprofits answer a host of societal needs, and when put to the test, this critical part of our economic engine has punched above its weight. Where would our community be without you? Our firm is humbled to work alongside you. Call if we can help you. It’s what we love to do. Thank you!