Covid-19: 7 fundraisers in 7 places

As the tide of the Covid-19 pandemic rolls on across the globe and into North America, it is threatening to crush some nonprofits, while others may find themselves riding on a relatively smooth wave of financial support. Most will find themselves somewhere in between. There are many unknowns and uncertainties as we navigate the stormy seas of fundraising and donor relations in the coming months. Relationship fundraising pioneer, Ken Burnett, suggests the crisis could be fundraising’s finest hour, when we turn to our donors with what he calls a ‘Let’s give before we get, sharing with our friends’ approach’. At the core is the “supporter’s experience that matters most.” Having thoughtful conversations with donors that allow us to genuinely connect and discuss what is happening. Listening carefully what they have to say. How they have been affected. For those who feel forgotten this can be a lifeline. The way we handle the crisis will impact our donor relationships in the future. In this difficult time, I asked more than half a dozen fundraisers, some working on the frontline, others managing staff, and a few involved in consulting, in different regions and countries around the globe, what they are doing differently. Seven fundraising professionals in seven places: Robert Dixon, Director of Development at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada Melody Song, Fundraising Consultant, Founder & Solution Designer, Berlin, Germany reporting on China (based on interviews with family, friends in the charity sector, and Ying Ye, General Secretary for the Fundraising Innovation Centre, Shanghai, China) Rodney M. Grabowski, Vice President for University Advancement University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA Anup Tiwari, Board Member, South Asian Fundraising Group, New Dehli, India Deborah Berra, CEO, Stiftung Kindernothilfe Schweiz, Aarau, Switzerland Daryl Upsall, Chief Executive, Daryl Upsall & Associates and Daryl Upsall Consulting International, Madrid, Spain Bill Littlejohn, CEO and Senior VP, Sharp HealthCare Foundation, San Diego, California, USA How did you experience the past few days of the Covid-19 crisis? Robert Dixon in Toronto, Canada: After the initial shock and disruption, the past few days have actually been rather fun. The remote working technology is operating well, food supplies have returned to normal, and it’s been good to have extra time for cooking, reading, and catching up with friends and family. I’m concerned of course about the wider situation, and particularly for elderly relatives living back home in the UK, but clarity from various governments in recent days has been helpful. Melody Song in Berlin, Germany: For me, and many people who have families in China but live in North America or Europe, this crisis has been a non-stop challenge since January! China is getting back to normal after two months of lockdown. Kids are still out of school but there are plans for schools to open on May 1, 2020. There are still tight controls by volunteers in each community about who comes and goes, and residents are still using hand-written passes to ensure strangers don’t enter communities without registration. Overall in the past few days, the situation in China has been uplifting.   Rodney Grabowski in Buffalo, New York, USA: As a leader in advancement, it feels like every day is a week in time given our current dynamic environment. The past few days of the current pandemic has had a dramatic impact on my focus. My first priority is the health and welfare of my team (approximately 130 individuals) and secondly, to our constituency. We have been simultaneously redefining how we work, what is important and then prioritizing in ways that allows us to be sincere and productive during this crisis. Engagement, solicitation and stewardship practices have been upended and revisited based on our current reality and are often changing on an almost daily basis. Anup Tiwari in New Dehli, India: The past few days have been full of anxiety for family, friends, and generally the underprivileged in India and around the world. Personal anxieties have been addressed by social distancing; however, the large daily wage-earning population in India is not able to stay hungry in their temporary shelters and are rushing to reach their native villages or towns. This puts them and the rest in huge danger. Personally, working from home during crisis means longer working hours as you can’t be in the field and have to manage all from a lockdown confinement.  Deborah Berra in Aarau, Switzerland: I followed the development of the corona crisis early on in Italy and Ticino (Italian part of Switzerland) and decided on Wednesday, March 11th 2020 that we would start with homeoffice. As an employer, I have a duty of care towards my employees. We are basically set up in a way that work from home is possible. We all live in Zurich, but work in Aarau. In addition, all of my employees are mothers. So it’s good when one has the opportunity to do things from home. Nevertheless, we still had to organize one or two things before we were fully functional. Daryl Upsall in Madrid, Spain: The past days have been kind of surreal. On March 11, after a lot of traveling for work, my partner and I headed for a long-planned break at the beach and then couldn’t travel back to Madrid. Currently, we are on complete lockdown with mandated self-isolation, and people here are abiding by it very strictly. It’s like a post-Franco legacy. When orders are given, they are abided: empty streets, no cars driving on the streets, shops closed. Very different, for example, in the UK, where people were still gathering in sunny weather and having parties. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and everything was super organized there, fully stocked shelves, staff sanitizing the cart for you before you touch it, and cheerful staff. While the clapping from balconies started here, there is no spring to volunteering out of solidarity happening as is the case in other countries. Bill Littlejohn in San Diego, California, USA: Beginning March 16, we converted our monthly e-newsletter (Philanthropy Notes)

Covid-19: 7 fundraisers in 7 places Read More »