Most email I read now begins with, “I hope this email finds you and your family safe.” Early on, I was comforted by these statements. Today they feel repetitive. I realize the writer doesn’t have any idea how to start the email or the letter right now.
All the rules they lived and worked by have disappeared. Dare I repeat the other statement made so often today, “our world has changed, and we must now prepare for a new normal.”
I’m going to step out on thin ice. I bet we go back to something closer to normal than currently predicted. Not soon, but eventually.
Americans are resilient, experienced at starting over. Only 244 years old, our nation has weathered World Wars and felt the pain of terrorism on our soil. We have experience digging out of ash and rubble. We’ll dig out of this too, eventually.
This is not our first pandemic. What’s different about this time is the outsized role government has taken in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19. We are in the midst of economic trials that daily test our mettle and have made two months feel like a year.
But we have experience surviving and skills to prove it.
Skills are a funny thing, though. They aren’t all transferable, some we leave behind, others improve and carry us forward.
At 14, I put on my first pair of ice skates. Confident, I stepped out onto the ice. After all, I was quite a good skater – on four wheels and a hardwood floor.
On the ice, I couldn’t stand up without support. My ankles were too weak to stay balanced, even on two blades. Stepping out on ice tested me beyond my best floor skills, so no easy transfer of skills. I felt it was unfair that I couldn’t just breeze out there on the ice.
A writer I follow, Bruce DeBoskey, recently wrote: “View this as an opportunity for growth, change and reflection.”
We’ve always been growing and changing, haven’t we? Writers talk about change – personal, company, industry – everything is always in a state of change.
Today, change feels different, overwhelming, unmanageable, and unfair.
The nonprofit organizations we supported last year share all the same feelings we are experiencing, except they are also meeting the needs of individuals and families in crisis.
Spring fundraisers are canceled, and some donors, concerned about their own finances, have pulled back, reducing donations or not giving at all. To add one more challenge for the nonprofit, all this comes during an election year with campaign fundraising competing for donation dollars.
DeBoskey also said, “Now is a great opportunity for each of us and our families to reflect on how we consume, share, collaborate, invest and give to our near and far neighbors.”
In times like this, our role as donors is even more critical.
Here’s how I think about giving now.
- Give to local nonprofit organizations you already know and support. If you can’t give as much, it’s ok. If everyone gives to organizations they believe in; the entire nonprofit community will impact many people.
- Trust organizations to spend the funds where it is most needed. Flexibility is paramount right now to keep their doors open and provide services.
- Look for ways to collaborate with other donors to make your donation go further. Give to community crisis funds or give with friends to increase the impact of your gift.
- Finally, plan to give now and give again later this year as organizations grapple with increased demand for service, and less time for fundraising.
I genuinely believe we will eventually go back to something very close to normal. But in the meantime, there will be long-term effects that require the work of many nonprofit organizations. Unemployment, mom and pop business closings, unpaid utility bills, not enough food in the pantry, mental health challenges, and more will continue to be with us for some time to come.
Give now and give again later this year.
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Dawn…thank you for sharing this, it was just what I needed this morning! Life and the work we do is moving at warp-speed. ETFB is experiencing a huge increase in demand for food and we are working hard to ensure our hungry neighbors get it. Our Community continues their generous support of the work we do and we are grateful. These definitely are challenging times and as you mentioned, the perfect opportunity to glean the wisdom from our experiences.
Dawn, great words of wisdom. I appreciate your advice and years of experience in dealing with the different ebbs and flows that non-profits have endured. Also great seminar you did this week with the East Texas chapter of AFP.