Fundraising During This Time of Turmoil

In times of upheaval, it’s not unusual for a nonprofit organization or a political candidate to temporarily suspend their fundraising solicitations.

During my 35-year career, I have witnessed several events that triggered many nonprofit causes to take such action, including 9/11 and the beginning of the great recession in 2008. 

However, the year 2020 is prompting a reaction previously unseen within the fundraising industry.

Jim Hussey, Chairman

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn caused many organizations to suspend their fundraising campaigns in March. Unlike the fundraising suspensions in 2001 and 2008, these interruptions were … and for some continue to be … much longer.

Following the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the murder of George Floyd was the catalyst for a new wave of protests in cities from New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between – another reason to reevaluate fundraising campaigns.

And 2020 is far from over. The remainder of the year promises even more turbulence.

In addition to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, the troubling and divisive political situation within the nation guarantees even more tumult, especially during the final quarter of this year. The election in November, as well as its lead up and aftermath, may be the most politically contentious period in modern American history.

So what do we do? Should nonprofit organizations constantly suspend and revive their fundraising efforts with each new, dramatic event? No.

For the sake of the causes we care about, we must continue on the path forward and push through the storms we are facing. We must carry on.

Even the temporary suspension of solicitation efforts can set your program behind by months or even years. A fundraising program is like a train … once stopped, it takes much time and effort to restart it and get up to speed.

In addition to the immediate loss of income, the suspension of donor acquisition efforts will cause attrition, instigating major downturns in your donor file that will further impact your efforts in future years.

Control packages and language atrophy without the constant testing necessary to keep them viable, necessitating further testing and smaller rollouts when the program is reinstated, until confidence in the market is rebuilt.

Decisions to suspend fundraising often come from outside the development office, by supervisors who too often are cynical about fundraising, and view it as a necessary evil.

More must be done to educate our nonprofit leaders that fundraising is about more than asking someone for money. It’s about empowering the donor and providing them with a chance to address an issue which is important to them. Suspending fundraising operations denies them that opportunity.

Nonprofit leaders often believe they are doing a favor for their donors by giving them a break. In reality, the donors probably don’t notice. But once loyal donors move on to other organizations that are less reluctant to ask for their involvement and help, and it is incredibly difficult to bring them back to the fold.

It’s best to address major events directly. If everyone’s attention is directed toward a particular issue … acknowledge it in your copy.

Don’t ignore the elephant in the room.

Your donors will not be angry with you for continuing to advocate for an issue that is important to you both, even in difficult times.

How are you fundraising right now? We’d love to hear how your organization has been reacting to and coping with 2020’s current events. Tell us in the comments!

Remote Collaboration

At CCAH, many of our employees worked remotely even before the current COVID-19 crisis sent all of us to our home offices. Over the years we’ve learned some best practices for teleworking that can be applied now, but also whenever you have a teammate who isn’t physically in the office with you for any reason!

Turn On Your Video

When working from home, it can be tempting to dress as though it’s extra casual Friday every day of the week, and though this post won’t dive into the value of getting “dressed for work” even when you’re only going as far as your home office, it is a great idea to be presentable for the camera. Being face to face with your team, even when you aren’t physically in the same space, is nothing short of a necessity. Seeing each other allows for nuance, body language, and important conversational cues that just aren’t possible if you’re using voice-only communication methods.

Keep (Or Set Up) Standing Meetings

Without the opportunity to run into each other in an office, it’s important to keep in touch with coworkers! If you have a mentor or friend who you have lunch with, or a coworker on another team who you share ideas with, set up a weekly or biweekly chat so that you can keep talking! Similarly, if you have check-ins with your teammates when you’re in the office – individually or in groups – keep them on the calendar. Setting time aside to keep up with each other is a great way to keep remote work from feeling like a lonely endeavor.

Don’t Forsake Small Talk

When a meeting begins in person, there’s often a few minutes when folks are gathering that is taken up by that dreaded social phenomenon – small talk. But think about how many times a little non-work-related conversation in the middle of the day left you feeling renewed and a little more connected to whoever you talked with. That kind of social connection is vital when trying to maintain morale and collaboration from solo work environments! Use a few minutes as everyone joins a conference call to ask about everyone’s day or commiserate about the latest telework woe. Those conversations build relationships, and teams that know and trust each other do better work.

Use Group Chats

Many online platforms like Slack, Skype for Business, or Google, offer the ability to put your team in a good old fashioned chat room. This allows discussion to flow with buy-in from everyone, and helps to foster connection among teammates near and far.

Share Ideas and Brainstorm

Working from home can feel isolating, but one way to keep that at bay is to keep lines of communication open for new ideas and brainstorms. When teammates trust each other, it isn’t so scary to share new ideas – even when they might need a little work or be less than great. Any suggestion that doesn’t make it into the mainstream can still be a starting point for fruitful conversation!

Want to join the conversation? Work with us!

CCAH has a long history of working remotely

Around the world, businesses have been forced to deal with the coronavirus crisis and learn how to operate remotely from the homes of their employees. This has been an intense struggle for companies that had little experience with telecommuting before Covid19 quickly and unexpectedly reshaped the economic landscape.

However, Chapman Cubine and Hussey was well prepared when the time arrived to begin working remotely because our firm has a long history of allowing employees to work remotely.

Jim Hussey, Chairman

CCAH began telecommuting in 1997 when a valued staffer moved to San Francisco from our original base in Washington, DC. We decided we could not live without her and took advantage of the then new-fangled Internet to see if someone could work remotely, away from our office.

We quickly learned that this new technique not only allowed our firm to hold onto valued staff, but that telecommuting was an indispensable tool to improve our services and grow our company. Within two years, our use of telecommuting quickly developed into a fully staffed West Coast operation that opened new markets for talented employees and new clients.

We soon also realized that this new technology allowed us to tap into employment talent pools in every corner of the United States, hiring excellent employees who were previously considered out-of-reach because they were not within commuting distance of Washington, DC or San Francisco.

Today, 23 years after we began the use of telecommuting, a large percentage of our staff works remotely full time and part time from their homes (as I am today from Connecticut). In fact, we have staff in 14 states!

So when we made the decision in mid-March to send the entire staff home to work remotely, all of the necessary systems were in place. Our IT staff already had two decades of expertise, the infrastructure was ready to go, each employee had their own company-issued laptop, and we were highly-experienced with teleconferencing amongst ourselves and our clients.

As a result, the work of our 120 employees continues forward, uninterrupted. Our hospital and health oriented clients must raise even more money than before. Older Americans and others in need are desperate for help. Elections still must be won. Rights must be protected. Abused animals still need our help. And the work of our many other charitable clients must go on. 

And as long as it is necessary, the employees of CCAH will continue working from our homes to ensure that the funding for these worthy causes continues to flow.

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Working Hard and Working from Home: How Remote Employees are Changing the Game

Over the summer, CCAH posted the blog you see below on working from home! We hope that in this time of increased telework, you find the tips and tricks from employees who were already working remotely to be helpful.

If you thought working remotely was just for bad weather days, you thought wrong! Across the country more and more companies are offering positions that allow employees to telework up to 100% of the time. Remote workers have limited distractions and enjoy flexible hours. 

What are the Benefits?

According to a study done by Indeed, 57% of remote workers feel more productive working from home than in the office and 38% of remote workers feel equally productive in the office and at home. And their employers agree! 72% of companies with remote workers say their remote workers are more productive when they’re at home. Some companies are even saving on real- estate costs by encouraging employees to work remotely. 

How do I know remote work will be successful on my team?

 Working remotely can work for anyone in any department, it just takes a little planning. We spoke with CCAH team members across departments and came up with a few tips to make teleworking successful for your team.

Tip 1: Be Accessible!

If you’re not in the office, its important to be available via phone and an instant messenger like Skype or Slack when email isn’t enough. Being accessible and over-communicating will help your team build trust and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Rob in Data Management recommends keeping your calendar as up to date as possible to keep everything on track.

Tip 2: Separate your Work Space from your Living Space

When you work from home, it can be difficult to cultivate a work/life balance. Jessica in Production suggests creating a designated work space. It will keep you organized and ensure you’ve got everything you need to be successful during the work day.

Tip 3: Stay Organized

Remote workers don’t always live in the same time zone as their clients or company. Katie in Account Services suggests having daily check ins with your team to make sure everyone knows where projects stand. This ensures that nothing slips through the cracks and everyone can get support if needed.

Remote work policies allow companies to hire the best employees regardless of location and give team members a better work- life balance.  But remember, no team is the same. While we’ve found these tips to be helpful at CCAH, connect with your team to find out what works for them. Everyone succeeds when they feel supported and valued – whether they’re in the office, or 3 hours away. 

Working Hard and Working from Home: How Remote Employees are Changing the Game

If you thought working remotely was just for bad weather days, you thought wrong! Across the country more and more companies are offering positions that allow employees to telework up to 100% of the time. Remote workers have limited distractions and enjoy flexible hours. 

What are the Benefits?

According to a study done by Indeed, 57% of remote workers feel more productive working from home than in the office and 38% of remote workers feel equally productive in the office and at home. And their employers agree! 72% of companies with remote workers say their remote workers are more productive when they’re at home. Some companies are even saving on real- estate costs by encouraging employees to work remotely. 

 

 How do I know remote work will be successful on my team?

Working remotely can work for anyone in any department, it just takes a little planning. We spoke with CCAH team members across departments and came up with a few tips to make teleworking successful for your team.

Tip 1: Be Accessible!

If you’re not in the office, its important to be available via phone and an instant messenger like Skype or Slack when email isn’t enough. Being accessible and over-communicating will help your team build trust and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Rob in Data Management recommends keeping your calendar as up to date as possible to keep everything on track.  

Tip 2: Separate your Work Space from your Living Space

When you work from home, it can be difficult to cultivate a work/life balance. Jessica in Production suggests creating a designated work space. It will keep you organized and ensure you’ve got everything you need to be successful during the work day.

Tip 3: Stay Organized

Remote workers don’t always live in the same time zone as their clients or company. Katie in Account Services suggests having daily check ins with your team to make sure everyone knows where projects stand. This ensures that nothing slips through the cracks and everyone can get support if needed.

Remote work policies allow companies to hire the best employees regardless of location and give team members a better work- life balance.  But remember, no team is the same. While we’ve found these tips to be helpful at CCAH, connect with your team to find out what works for them. Everyone succeeds when they feel supported and valued – whether they’re in the office, or 3 hours away.