Notes from AFP Advanced Professionals Happy Hour, May 28, 2020

Q: How are you staying connected with your donors? 

Lots of donor contact is through social media (Twitter, Facebook); some (not all) are still using snail mail. One person reported that major gift donors are asking for a pause.

Checking in on donors over age 65 is critical; this is an important donor group and they are most at risk. One attendee told of volunteering to make calls to seniors. She connected with a retired doctor who offered to personally visit those identified during the calls as needing care and/or attention. All agreed: giving donors/volunteers SOMETHING TO DO during this time is a great way to keep them connected.

Without a commute, most said they are working MORE.


Q: Has your mission changed during this period? Do you feel any of these changes are long-term?

Most said no. [Note: Most of those attending were in health care.] One smaller social service agency is placing more emphasis on day care and emergency deliveries.


Q: What kind of planning is your organization doing? What resources are you using?

Agencies are reassessing their FY21 goals. Some will not physically return to work until after Labor Day; others later. Those that have returned wear face masks and use screening. For those with private offices it is easier; those with cubicles have more obstacles to face. One person talked about how “COVID-proofing” the work environment has been added to her fundraising responsibilities, including installing “sneeze guards”. Primary resources for how to handle re-opening are medical personnel. CDC still recommends if you can, work from home! Those that share multi-story buildings with other businesses are still unsure about how best to handle elevator usage.


Q: How would you compare the current crisis to those you experienced in the past? What lessons did you learn then that you are applying now?

In the past, budget cuts impacted programs. This time monies budgeted to major events that have been cancelled (catering, venue where recouped) can be reallocated to less expensive, virtual events. It was noted that 4-hour -- or even 1-hour -- virtual meetings/trainings feel too long. Expertise is needed to mix live chats and interactive sessions with recorded segments to keep participants’ attention so they don’t look at their phones or walk the dog. Mix-and-mingle opportunities, which people are missing so much right now, should also be included in smaller, break-out “chat rooms”. However, most do not have the necessary technical expertise or equipment in-house to produce virtual events and professional videos, so some of the saved monies will need to go toward acquiring such. One suggestion: AFP should push out educational content about this different way of communicating with donors! Free webinars by Network for Good were cited as a good “how-to” resource.


So far, the emphasis has been to cut expenses, not services