There is a voice in us all that is ever present, a voice that always sings its melody to the world. This is a voice of truth and certainty, the voice that lays bare the hidden mysteries of the soul.
~ Jonathan Star
First, I hope that you and loved ones are well.
Second, I’m writing to share two things:
- To let you know I’ll be starting a new online Grant Writer's Well course in the next few days.
- A few preliminary thoughts on COVID-19 – and more will follow in the days to come.
Some Preliminary Thoughts on COVID-19
Yesterday, I had a conversation with a client who I’ve been working with for the last 6 months and I thought I’d share some of what I suggested in case it is helpful to you.
I’ve been in the non-profit field for over 30 years and so have worked through the 1989, 2001, and 2008 market crashes. In each of those instances, the impact on non-profits and grant writing took some time to filter down. After the market crashed, individual donations still kept coming in and dwindled once layoffs began, foundations honored their commitments and took time to readjust to their new capacity for giving, and the federal and state government didn’t make immediate cuts in their budgets that impacted Medicare payments and other revenue streams that many non-profit health organizations rely on.This time is different in a couple of regards
First, this is immediately impacting non-profits’ bottom lines. Critical fundraising events have been cancelled. With required restrictions, overnight, some of my clients have lost their primary revenue stream from after-school care, gyms, theater performances etc..
Second, it is global crisis so will impact all sectors and regions. In 2001, the market crash immediately affected the tech industry and surrounding communities but left other sectors and regions relatively untouched for quite a while. This time is affects us at a community and global level.
So, we need to respond at a community level not an individual level. Just as families and communities are mobilizing to protect the vulnerable, we need to work together.
Foundations are going to be reeling from this too and adjusting to the new normal and questioning what the best use of the billions of dollars at their disposal is. They need information and we have that information.
My client was tempted to wait on contacting funders and ‘not bother them.’ Instead, I suggest an initial three-pronged approach.Step 1: Be in communication early
First, I would go through your contact list and make a point of reaching out to your friends. We are going to need each other to get through this. We just are. Reach out to funders – both private and public who have funded you in the past ten years and let them know what is happening for your organization right now. Share details about how your clients have been impacted and what impact you foresee on your organization.
Don’t wait to be in communication. Call or email all your funders, suppliers, and bankers today and get a meeting scheduled. Tell them that you’d like to schedule a time to talk so that you can share with them about what is happening on the ground so that they can see how they can best serve the community as a whole. Assume that they want to do the best for you and your clients and that you can partner with them to generate creative solutions.
In the meantime, you can pull together the data that you need to share.
Step 2: We have a breathing space here. Use it to balance spirit, heart, mind and body by getting the facts and getting centered
The plans that you have been carefully working on for months may now be irrelevant. That can be scary and disorientating so it’s important to take some time find your center. Without that, you’ll be too reactive and fearful to be of service – and I know that being of service matters to you a lot.
First, get really clear on facts – most importantly how demand for your services has altered and how your finances have changed and the corollary short-, medium-, and long-term projections. This is likely going to be confronting so make sure you pay attention to your breath, drink plenty of water, and take breaks in nature if at all possible.
Second, a lot has just changed but not everything. Stay grounded in that. The sun is still shining, you still have friends and community of support, and you can rely on the values that have guided you and your organization for years.
Then, it’s time to sit (via zoom) with your team, your board, your major donors and look at how to move forward from here.
Make some space to really listen to people so that their fears can be heard. Clear and kind decisions can’t be made on top of anxiety and fear. So, the anxiety and fear need to be given an honorable place at the table rather than to leave them banging at door.
This is an excellent time to look at
- what should be scrapped,
- what needs to be postponed,
- what needs to be elevated, and
- what needs to be added
in light of new demands and situations.
I think the last two bullets are as important as the first two. A non-profit leader that I admire told me in 2008 that he had been advised to focus on revenue generation by a board member. He explained that our instinctive reaction is to focus on cutting down and letting go. While that is necessary, he was focusing as much time and energy as possible on how he would build the organization and generate more revenue. I'm pleased to say that the organization is thriving today and they did indeed expand in the wake of the 2008 downturn.
This is a powerful time for us to remember that in the face of anything, in any circumstances, we can choose our response and what we generate in each moment - again, and again, and again.
Start thinking through how you need to react and choose to respond to the current circumstances.
Begin to write these thoughts down so that you are well-positioned to write a winning grant proposal when funders start asking for input on what to fund and releasing RFA’s.
I hope that this has been helpful to you. And blessings to those of you who are juggling work and childcare or are watching over the health of a loved one.
As the Quakers say, the way will open.
If you’re one of the people who has been meaning to develop better grant writing skills but haven’t had the time… a new Grant Writing Course starts soon
I will be offering my online Grant Writer’s Well grant writing course starting in the next few days. I will offer at a discounted price so that you can build the skills that you need to move forward.
My hope is that you can use the time at home to grow professionally so that you’re prepared for future challenges. Look out for an email that I’ll be sending out about it tomorrow.
I'm also pondering about leading a webinar/zoom meeting/facebook live event for us to gather and share our thoughts. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions on that.