When I put my ear to the ground lately, I’m hearing a lot of people asking when we’re going to “get back to normal” in nonprofit fundraising.
Should I push my event to the fall? Will it be “normal” for us to gather then?
Do you think we’ll be back to “normal” this year? Next year? Will it be “normal” by then?
And I get it. I understand, and I feel it too. Change is challenging, especially when it comes out of the blue like our COVID-19 lockdowns did. One day we’re gathering in person in large venues all over town, making toasts, eating dinner together and dancing the night away! And the next we’re isolated in our homes drinking a glass (or two!) of wine, alone, with no end in sight.
But I’m going to take a moment to challenge the notion that we’re ever going to go back to the same “normal” we’re thinking of. Because, ultimately, even that normal was an ever-evolving, fluid, changing set of ideas and best practices. And for good reason. As nonprofit development professionals, we thrive on innovation. It’s in our DNA! As soon as we put together one great idea for gathering our supporters and donors together, someone else was crafting a smoother, more successful version of it.
We, my friends, were built for these times.
We have a good blueprint for what we’re going through post-9/11. At one time – in the not-so-distant past –we were used to being able to walk our family members all the way up to the glass at the airport, to see their tiny faces in the airplane window as we waved goodbye. Now, we have to get our goodbyes out in the car, on the way.
I believe this is what’s in store for us now. Even when we’re able to do them, our live events won’t look the same. People are going to invest in things differently. They’ll be inspired by different things. Honestly, if we look around a little bit, they already are.
And this is as much an opportunity as it is a threat. The pivots we’re making right now – they will serve us in the long haul. I promise! And as with any challenging season, we’ll emerge smarter. And stronger. With a few more ideas, too.
So, if you were just getting ready to ask if you should push your event to the fall, don’t! If you need that time to fuel your strategic brainstorming and big-picture thinking, sure. But you should plan on your event being virtual whenever you have it in 2021. And we should all use this time to do what we do best: consider how we’re going to make some mouth-puckeringly tasty, sweet and refreshing lemonade out of these pandemic-style lemons. Yum.
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