Election Aftermath: 4 Things Fundraisers Can Do Right Now
Whoa! What happened last week?
For many nonprofit professionals who work toward a country that is kind, respectful and inclusive, the U.S. presidential election was nothing short of devastating.
And, for me, this election went beyond politics, and spoke directly to humanity and who we are as a country. With everything that was at stake on Nov. 8, my personal reaction to the election was visceral—I was in deep mourning.
But, on Nov. 9, I boarded a plane for Chicago to attend The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. It was reaffirming in so many ways, and boy, did I need it. I got the chance to spend time with colleagues from around the world. The two days were filled with big hugs and tears, and the empathy that united us was almost palpable.
So, what’s next? Savvy nonprofit professionals have already begun to heed the words of John F. Kennedy:
When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
It’s time to get busy.
1. Practice empathy and engage in more meaningful face-to-face dialogue.
If you’re on Facebook, you already know what a divisive space it can be. Social media has an extraordinary ability to bring people together, but it can also tear us apart. I’m hearing stories of friends and families split up over this election. Ditch social media, and instead spend time face-to-face connecting. Face-to-face dialogue, or closer communication of any kind, encourages listening over convenience. Deep listening is more important now than ever before if we are to heal.
How can you be empathetic? If you’re not familiar with the work of Brene Brown, I urge you to check it out, both in her TED talks and in her books. And this short video should clarify the difference between empathy and sympathy for you (because sometimes I forget).
2. Make a gift to an organization (or organizations) that are personally meaningful to you.
Organizations serving LGBT youth, women, the environment, independent journalism and education could really use your support right now. The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Trevor’s House and other large nonprofits are all getting a good deal of press lately, but there are also plenty of fantastic organizations that aren’t. Local organizations need your support, too. Can you think of a better time to become a monthly donor than right now?
Unsure of what charities to support? Check out RageDonation.com, an all-volunteer endeavor inspired by Trump’s own statements.
3. Stay very much focused on moving forward and on your organization's sustainability.
In a recent post on The Agitator, our friend Roger Craver noted:
Stay focused on your organization’s performance and sustainability. Now’s the time to focus on cutting efforts that are not producing strong returns and beef up areas that are producing. Fundraising, providing first rate donor service and experiences are all important. Don’t cut costs (in fact, step them up) in this area and continue to ask your donors and prospects for support.
Now is the time to communicate more often and more effectively with your donors—and even more importantly, to listen. How are you growing your monthly-giving program? Do you have a planned-giving program?
4.Think about how you are communicating with your donors.
The “how” is vital. Naturally, many environmental, human rights, LGBT and women’s organizations are already mobilizing their supporters via email and social media in response to what’s gone down. The ACLU’s Facebook followers have jumped to more than 1 million (an increase of 25 percent) and an open letter to Trump on its website has garnered more than 400,000 views.
Passion leads progress.
Living Yoga, a nonprofit located in Portland, Ore., brings the study and practice of yoga to kids, youth and adults in correctional facilities, drug treatment centers and behavioral/mental health facilities. This email crossed my inbox over the weekend, and I found it so lovely and reassuring—such a reaffirmation of the nonprofit's work—that I knew it was worth sharing with you:
I am reaching out to you during this time of heightened concern and uncertainty for so many. As a trauma-informed organization, Living Yoga is committed to the safety and well-being of our students, volunteers, staff, board, partners and fellow community members.
While many people in our community, and in our country, are feeling triggered, sad, scared or unsure, there is some comfort in knowing that Living Yoga remains committed to ensuring we all feel safe, welcome and valued.
Living Yoga fosters healing and resilience in vulnerable and marginalized communities, and I am immensely grateful for your contributions to our mission and our work.
May we all remember the impact we have each day, with every action.
These are Living Yoga's guiding values:
- Transformation: We are committed to helping people create positive change from the inside out.
- Truthfulness: We honor all people and the underlying potential for greatness in their lives.
- Respect and compassion: We honor diversity; and we encourage nonviolent communication, openness and safety.
- Sustainability: We encourage meaningful opportunities, extensive training, mentoring and support.
- Service: We honor selfless service, recognizing that the one served and the one serving are both transformed, and we engage the community in our process.
These values guide us and remain constant, regardless of what changes take place around us.
Thank you for all that you do for Living Yoga and our students. Your support helps us all to heal and thrive.
And lastly? This is sort of a no-brainer, but in times of chaos, we often forget: Stay healthy. Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. You cannot lead the fight against oppression and injustice if you are ill, and these basics keep your body and mind on point.
Moving forward comes down to you. Recommit to your organization’s mission and vow a commitment to peaceful resistance.
My friend, writer and activist Sam Crespi, shared the following. It helped me, and I thought it might help you:
My intention: To stand up, bear witness and protest hate, bigotry and racism. To turn my attention toward what I believe is wanting to be born. To show compassionate dignity combined with strength and determination when speaking to and of the opposition. Find ways to illuminate acts of nonviolence in a way that leaves people stunned by the exquisite beauty and strength of what comes from the heart. Leaving them unable to do anything but acknowledge the power of compassionate collaboration for all that's life affirming.
If there’s a silver lining in the aftermath of Trump’s election, it is that people will be more motivated than ever to work for positive change.
I have great faith in you.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.