I have two groups of friends: one group is doing things like learning a language, power-washing their homes, building fences and the list goes on. The other group is binge-watching TV, worrying and taking one too many trips to the kitchen. Unfortunately, I fall into the second group. Here is how pathetic we have become: Frank and I are starting to watch the 12th season of Criminal Minds, which has 24 episodes/season. Regardless of how you are spending your days, we are all in mourning. Some for the loss of a loved one, some for lack of freedom, loss of employment and many of us for smaller things like a haircut or a manicure, the hugs from grandparents at Passover, Easter or a simple Sunday night dinner shared with friends.
It is time to reach out. We want our donors to be there when we need them, we need each other now.
Here are how your board members might spend a very small portion of their day: Call your donors.
Here is the rough of a script:
Hello, this is Carol Weisman. I am a board member for the Ladue Education Fund. First of all, I wanted to thank you for your long-time support and I also want to find out how you are doing. (If there was a death, follow-up with a handwritten note. With permission, let others in your organization know about the loss.)
If you have a few minutes, I would like to get your thoughts on three questions as we look at strategic planning for the future.
- Do you think this could happen again? LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN
- How prepared do you think our organization was for this pandemic? LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN
- What should we be doing now if you believe this might happen again? LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN
- If a donor wants to know what they can do, have a list ready or refer them to the appropriate person in your agency.
I have already been calling some clients and they all believed this might happen again. Some believe that they are doing a pretty good job, others believe the doors will have to close, and a few have come up with innovative solutions working with other groups.
Their thoughts on strategy moving forward include: working on endowment, investing in technology, looking into other streams of revenue not to mention applying for federal funds.
When I spoke to Julie Ferrie, the ED of the Ladue Education Foundation, she shared all kinds of great things that I didn’t know about including bus drivers delivering food to the families of children on the free lunch program, hooking up students with Wi-Fi and tablets for homeschooling and the list goes on.
We are going to have a short Zoom meeting with the board members who are willing to call donors so that Julie can update us on need and work in progress.
If you have time to eliminate one less trip to the kitchen or scrubbing the sidewalk around your house, please consider this easy way to forward your mission and to feel useful.
p.s. Also, take time to count your blessing. A little bragging. My husband is an ardent Sam’s Warehouse shopper, even though there are now only two of us in a condo. Thanks to Frank, we have enough toilet paper should the entire Vienna Boys’ Choir drop by after a bad meal. What are your grateful for and how can you give some of your time, or in our case, also extra toilet paper?