As much as it seems like life has been put on hold, there are some things that are still very much a part of our lives—metrics. We know that things will start to return to normal at some point and the need for philanthropic support will be more important than ever. What can you do now?
Pick up the phone
This is a perfect time to check in with everyone. Many of our donors are older and the social distancing is critical for their health, but distance will begin to take its toll. Log into your CRM and print a report of your entire portfolio, contact name, last contact, and phone number. Start at the top of the list and work down. Check in on the people who are truly important to you and your organization. We are all in this together.
Provide an update
We have all seen how every organization or business that ever had our email is dealing with COVID-19. Your institution/organization has likely sent a similar email (probably multiple messages as things continue to change). This is a great time to continue to let people know what is going on and how you and your team are responding. Share what that means for you, your school/college, program, fellow staff, faculty, students, and those you serve.
Introduce a value proposition
We have already seen some amazing resources being organized by universities and organizations. Does your donor have school-age kids or grandkids who are home for the next four weeks? Is your organization offering online programs or sessions, educational resources, or advice from experts in the field? Does your organization have health-related resources that would be beneficial to an aging population? Maybe your organization is actually helping to find a vaccine or providing essential care. Look for ways you can provide value to those you serve and make that connection.
Provide solid ROPI
This is a great time to share stories that illustrate a positive return on philanthropic investment. It’s an area that can easily be missed amid the everyday chaos. Go through the gifts that have come in over the last year and look at how they were spent. Was it scholarship support? Reach out to the student or recent grad and find out how they are doing and share that with the scholarship supporter. Was it faculty support? Encourage that faculty member to reach out to the donor with an update. Program support? What was happening before the current situation and what will it look like going forward?
Send handwritten notes
Everyone loves getting a note in the mail. What a great time to drop a note to those you manage (maybe don’t lick the envelope though). A handwritten letter tells those donors that you respect them and care about their relationship with your organization.
Cultivate internal partners
How much time have you spent cultivating your internal resources—faculty and academic leaders? This is a great time to schedule a meeting to learn more about what they do and how you can help them achieve their professional goals. This will also give you great information to share with donors. Imagine if you can say, “I was just speaking with Professor Gold about the work she is doing.” Now, also imagine meeting back up with that faculty member to let them know that you were just speaking with a donor about their work. That can build a great foundation to work from even after the current situation calms down.
Be part of your academic leader’s support team
These are unprecedented times. All our leaders are trying to figure out what is best and respond to the ever-changing decisions from those higher up. Sometimes just knowing there is a dedicated support team behind them can make all the difference.
Use the time to invest in yourself
Similar to the many opportunities popping up for kids, there are all kinds of opportunities for professionals to invest in their personal growth and career success through a variety of virtual settings and online discussion groups. In the coming months, there are sure to be many more. Take the initiative to advocate for yourself. Use this time to be truly productive by expanding your expertise and know-how. While others might sit back and fret, you will be preparing yourself for what comes next.
Most development professionals are already pretty good at working from wherever they happen to be at the time. You don’t need “tips for working from home” quite as much as other professions but, until the COVID-19 curve flattens, our work is going to be definitely different and probably will be for some time. Consequently, raising money for projects and programs will be different as well. Most would say more difficult without the power of the face-to-face visit. However, development professionals are masters of communication and keeping people connected. There has never been a time where that skill is more important. Together, we will continue the great work of all those we serve.
Interested in sharpening your development skills? Advancement Resources offers robust e-Learning modules and other resources through their complimentary myAR platform. We are also working to reschedule face-to-face public workshops with our interactive virtual sessions. Watch our website for frequent updates as we work to reschedule face-to-face public workshops and increase our offerings of interactive virtual sessions.