We should all be imagining how advancement work will be rearranged, adjusted, and altered post-COVID-19.
It’s easy to think of remote-work or work-from-home norms as becoming commonplace policy, especially for gift officers. The integration of video conferencing and digital technologies with in-person, human-to-human donor engagement is another aspect of our work which, most likely, will become ordinary.
Large-scale special event fundraising may never regain its luster for those organizations that learned during the pandemic there were far more efficient and effective ways to raise needed funds. We might even predict that budget-relieving fundraising – especially for a host of institutions that enjoyed the pre-pandemic luxury of embracing “donor-centered fundraising” – will become more important and prevalent.
Rather than being the transformation itself, though, I would quietly suggest that such predictions are more the precursors to the fundamental change that is coming. In fact, I believe these and other similar predictions actually present a cause-and-effect relationship with the true shift we will experience.
As our world grows conditioned to being more physically disconnected and broad-based concerns linger about gathering in public, shared spaces (as opposed to staying in “safe” private spaces), the need to enhance your institution’s influence and trust with donors will become far more paramount in your work. The growing importance of the influence and trust you carry with your donors will be the transformation that will most define your advancement success post-COVID-19.
The advancement teams that compellingly and consistently invite influential volunteers (i.e., Board members, Advisory Council members, and others) to help construct personalized pathways of engagement for others will be the ones that grow their donor bases and increase charitable gift totals. It will be those wise, humble, and open advancement and institutional leaders, willing to create authentic and trust-filled donor partnerships, who will help protect their institutions from future financial volatility and greatly reduce institutional risk.
Our coming world will tend in important ways toward greater disconnection and distrust. If you aren’t imagining how the future of your advancement work will more directly engage influence and build trust, you may be planning for a post-COVID-19 world that never materializes.