Ask most people what they think of fundraising and watch eyes roll, noses wrinkle, or shoulders sag.
With the season of giving just around the corner, this is on my mind. Coupled with some persistently hard-to-hear stats, how can nonprofit leaders navigate this season gracefully and confidently?
Those persistently hard-to-hear stats
A study this summer revealed that 61% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. This challenge isn’t new. Principal Financial Group found in 2010 that 75% of workers were concerned about their financial futures. Sprinkle in high inflation rates, even higher interest rates, and student loan repayment, and it’s clear to see our neighbors are struggling.
My point is this: Financial anxiety doesn’t just affect fundraising; it ripples through all aspects of our community.
So, this season, expand your attitude beyond reaching the monetary goal. Consider the gift of building resiliency among your staff, board, client, and donors to create a greater sense of kinship and belonging. After all, at its core, philanthropy is all about improving well-being. Don’t let anxiety sabotage your deeper purpose and impact.
We’ve found two common misconceptions folks often get wrong about resiliency:
Assuming it’s a character trait and
Stigmatizing people when they’re met with adversity
To help, I’ve put together a few concepts we’ve seen work well in the sector that you might be interested in experimenting with:
Leader: Influence to action
Leaders use influence to inspire ACTION, model the behavior they seek in others, and actively build resiliency
Staff: The power of triple purpose
Build a positive impact on self, team, and others by focusing on what is truly important now, and encourage your team to grow themselves in positive and meaningful ways, support the team in positive and meaningful ways, and engage with others in positive and meaningful ways to enable a bigger impact on the community
Board: Navigate adversity
Hand-wringing board members don’t help. Get clear-eyed about the realities your organization might encourage as a result of the current uncertainty; experiment with emerging ideas and elevate what works; generate an array of strategic options
Clients: Encourage folks to reach out for help and support now
Asking for help in our culture is hard enough when things are going well, let alone when one is feeling anxious or uncertain. Consider how you and your team can make accessing services a show of strength and courage. My hunch is you have a whole host of resources that could be conveyed in a way that would help your clients feel a smidge more comfortable seeking help before things get worse
Donors: Find common ground
Put yourself in your supporters’ shoes. They may be feeling their own anxiety, so offering folks a place to invest in a solution to a problem they’re concerned about is a gift in itself. Storytelling using shared values and client experiences of transformation helps create a sense of community and belonging. And, remember the act of giving releases oxytocin. Invite the spirit of resiliency for self and others through your communication
This season, fortifying your community through resiliency may be the gift that keeps on giving. Oh, and always remember, people don’t support organizations with needs, they support organizations that MEET needs.
Keep meeting needs, fundraising with empathy, and fortifying your community through the gift of resiliency.