We’ve learned that Advancement work during a pandemic is different. It requires increasingly empathic approaches and more targeted messaging. It calls for greater creativity. And it certainly requires persistence.
Something else that’s different about Advancement work right now: found time. That is, there is more of it.
Certain constituents aren’t interested in meeting with you right now. In-person events have been postponed or canceled. Team meetings via video seem to go quicker. “Watercooler” conversations have been furloughed. The colleague “pop-in” is a distant memory.
Although the calculus is different for each of us, and you may feel you had more of it in March and April, it all adds up to some degree of found time for everyone. And until a vaccine is widespread and life returns to normal, the meter will keep running.
What will you do with your found time?
For me, the need to be intentional with found time surfaced at, of all places, my semi-annual dental appointment. My dentist is a good friend from college, and as we caught up with each other during my last appointment, he said something about his business that should apply to all of us:
“We used the time when we were shut down to think about things we haven’t been able to think about before and make changes to how we serve customers. And it has made us better.”
Can you say that about your institution? About your position?
Will you be able to look back next year and know that you did something that “made us better?”
Maybe it’s not clear what your Advancement team could do different/better. We all develop tunnel vision at times. If you need help getting started, below are some ideas. If you’re stuck and would like to chat, let me know. I’d love to find time to connect. Or maybe the time is ripe to conduct a full Advancement Audit. If Gonser Gerber can help, our Advancement Audit can be completed in 60-90 days, leaving plenty of found time at the beginning of 2021 to implement recommendations and focus on serving your constituents even better.
This time next year, you’ll likely be back to the hectic pace that we recognize as “business as usual.” Until then, how might you use your found time to become markedly better?
Ways to Use “Found Time”
- Start an “insider’s” communication to members of your leadership giving society, legacy giving society newsletter, VIPs, etc.
- Improve annual giving direct mail personalization through expanded “segments”
- Develop and conduct invitation-only Zoom virtual events
- Improve stewardship outreach through expanded written stewardship reports to $25k+ donors
- Upgrade your constituent relationship management database
- Research and implement database enhancements
- Refresh your wealth-screening information
- Update your major gift “discovery pool”
- Conduct a detailed portfolio review; remove and replace prospects who haven’t advanced their commitments in five or more years
- Document (or update), in writing, your departmental policies and procedures
- Audit your endowed scholarships to identify missing donor agreements, funds that aren’t regularly distributing, gaps where new funds are needed, etc.
- Read a good book on Advancement