Many nonprofits are at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight. They are serving the most vulnerable and most affected, shining a light on those who need the most support as we search for solid footing. And now, as states begin to reopen or lift restrictions, nonprofit leaders are finding they must adapt their recently established pandemic “new normal” to lead their staff and supporters to navigate the “next normal.” It’s a tough spot to be in! Our CEO and President Trent Ricker shares a few tips for navigating these uncharted waters and coming out stronger than before.
It’s OK to Be Human
Everything is different due to the pandemic. Change has happened on every level, which isn’t easy for anyone. Remember that it’s OK to be human. We need to give ourselves a little slack as leaders. There are some really important decisions needed that will take time, and you’ll need to communicate those with your supporters and acknowledge openly that you might make some mistakes. Ask for grace, communicate, and do your best.
Care for Your Donors
Helping one another — the desire to give — is human, and it’s part of what brings all of us together. So don’t deny your constituents the opportunity to have conversations about the mission. Let them know how you are doing and how you are leading the mission as expected. At the same time, ask for their help—sometimes it’s going to be financial help, sometimes it might be amplifying the message, sometimes it might be putting something not on social media. Just keep in communication and let them know that you do need their help.
Be Ready to Pivot
We have to think really differently and think about what’s even possible in this new day and age. And as some states begin rolling out new guidelines, you as a leader as well as your organization must remain nimble and be comfortable in the uncertainty. This will help create some sort of enthusiasm and inspiration for your followers, letting them know you are still moving forward, still at work, still excited to serve the world—even if you aren’t sure exactly what that will look like yet.
Leverage the Crisis
This crisis is what everyone is thinking about—so it’s natural for your organization to explain how you are responding to the changes. Tell your donors how it’s impacted your team, those you serve, the way you go about delivering your programs, and why the work you are doing is relevant and vital right now.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Gifts
If you do nothing, you will raise nothing, and you will upset no one. But your mission will grind to a halt! So take the risk—let your donors know the funding you need and if it’s greater than expected due to the COVID-19 outbreak. You may upset a few people. Just communicate kindly and honestly, using your data to make a best list, and make amends where and if needed.
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