Stephen Covey wisely said, “Keep the main thing the main thing.”
For development leaders and team members, Spring is the time for updating your prospect plan.
It’s hard, if not impossible, to take massive action if we don’t have a good reminder of the structure we’re following and what we truly need to accomplish in the next 60 to 100 days.
Going into 2020, everyone knew it was an election year. Politics aside, many organizations and ministries face additional challenges being heard and considered every four years. Election years get very noisy. From January all the way to election day in November, there’s an increasing level of volume of communication and marketing and fundraising coming at people from all different sides.
People get distracted, defensive even, with so many pieces of information flying at them.
We must also consider the challenge brought upon us globally through both the psychological and behavioral impact of coronavirus. The medical and financial impacts are still evolving. It’s all very unpredictable, very unknown to us all. While the markets change from day to day and medicine strives to make advances at exponential rates, what we do know for sure is people are experiencing psychological fears. These fears are very real with very real impacts.
Fear therefore changes behavior.
Last but not least, we face the volatility of markets and the emerging effects on asset holders and business owners. No one knows ultimately how this is going to affect real assets, real incomes, business balance sheets, and therefore giving.
People will need time to recover.
It’s not our role to try to predict as leaders. What is important to be aware of is that the volatility and the fact that these things are emerging does affect asset holders and business owners in terms of the fact that they are now perceiving something different. It is a very real possibility that people might have lowered income or might have shifts on their balance sheets in their business, changes of income or might have less money to give.
Uncertainty changes people’s behavior; it slows down the decision making processes.
So what do we as leaders do?
Deal with Reality.
What we can’t see, but imagine, can be scary – terrifying even. We don’t know how this will play out, and that causes a lot of fear.
It is not your job to imagine all the scenarios, how they could potentially play out, and how your ministry can respond to each and every circumstance.
It is your job to see reality, to listen and understand what’s really going on with individuals.
The more you can invite people to tell you what’s really going on, the more aware you’re able to be and the more able you are to deal with reality.
Distance Socially, Not Relationally.
Now’s the time to become more active, more intentional, and get closer to givers – not distance yourself.
Will it take more planning and intentionality on your part? Probably.
Is it necessary? Absolutely.
Get close and prepare to get closer still.
Thank. Report. Repeat.
Although we always call to mind how important these two steps are, they’re even more vital during this uncertain time. People’s decision making capabilities have slowed.
As behaviors change in response to the unknown, thanking and reporting to donors may very well be exactly that they need to keep their priorities from shifting elsewhere.
People will continue to determine their priorities through prayer and based on trust. Make sure they’re more than aware of how their giving is making an impact.
Get input from your largest donors. They will tell you what you need to know if you ask the right questions and listen.
You don’t want to be surprised 60, 90, 100 days from now or in the second half of the year that one of your largest donors is down shifting their giving or stopping it all together.
What do you ask? How is the coronavirus and the market volatility impacting you? What kind of decisions are you making in your business or in your life? As a leader trying to navigate well, what advice would you give me during all of this?
If this pandemic starts affecting real decisions they’re making in business, real assets and income – and therefore giving – they will tell you if you’re asking the right questions.
Dust off your message.
Make sure your priorities are crystal clear and highly relevant if things change. Your priorities will guide you in making decisions. Make sure they’re in order.
Keep your message fresh and make modifications if needed to stay current.
Do the Opposite.
Be ready to cut spending if needed to protect the core day-to-day program while not cutting the work that drives your economic engine.
This is the opposite of what fear drives most organizations to do.
You need to understand the processes by which you would enter into difficult discussions and decisions.
Most nonprofits will cut everything but the program, due to fear.
Do the opposite.
Keep funding strong on the things that drive your revenues and cut the program where you can in a way that protects the core.
This is extremely painful and difficult, yet necessary to do.
Control What You Can.
As leaders, we cannot control external factors.
We can’t control the fear that’s out there, but we have a high degree of control over how we respond.
This is a leadership challenge and opportunity to get better, faster, and possibly minimize some of the negative effects of this pandemic.
Staying strong and working to get great at what you’re already good at will help you come through to the other side.
As you get back to the basics of your ministry, it may be time to revisit your strategy statement. Download our Strategy Statement Tool today.