It used to be mostly a combination of yellow (phone/Zoom meeting), blue (in person meeting), green (personal appointment) and purple (birthday/anniversary). Looking at my calendar today, it’s all yellow and purple, like my calendar is bruised.
It is, of course. We’re all bruised right now.
Yesterday was the sixth (and last) HBG Book Club meeting to discuss the very wonderful book by Hans Rosling called Factfulness. (Seriously, go read this book). My colleague Jayme is going to share her book review of it soon for Apra Connections and for this blog, but don’t wait for that. There are 25 of us in the book club, and every single one of us found this book had specific, useful ways to help us manage the information (and disinformation) that surrounds us.
Not only that, but Rosling, who died in 2017, was gob-smackingly prescient in predicting how this COVID pandemic would go down. That discussion was in the last chapter, so our conversation yesterday was a barn-burner on current events and how Rosling would have reacted to them.
As I watched 20 faces smiling and nodding and looking intense and debating and sharing, I thought about how much this pandemic has already changed things and is going to change them even more.
Take Zoom, for example. Five months ago, millions of people had never used it. Now almost everybody’s a Zoom user. We use it for work, and we use it in our personal lives now instead of static communication methods like email or Facebook so we can actually have the one-on-one conversations (or coffee! or friends “over” for cocktails!) that we’re all starved for now.
It’s amazing to think about how shockingly fast Zoom adoption went from zero to 100mph.
Those millions of new adopters include parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles – folks who are right in the middle of the (our) major-donor demographic. We in fundraising didn’t need to teach them a new technology to reach them; they’re already there, and they’re invested learners using it to talk with people they love.
Looking around the book club Zoom room, I realized that the virtual room wasn’t a substitute for an experience, it was a real thing on its own. People spoke in front of virtual backgrounds that meant something to them, and we were able to learn more about them and enjoy commonalities in discovering their chosen backgrounds. Kids and cats and significant others wandered in and out sometimes, and we took the opportunity to use those moments to actually get to know each other better.
We’ve lost a lot, but we’ve gained some things as well.
We’re going to emerge from this COVID-time very different people, working in very different work situations. What happens to all of those office spaces if we discover we no longer need them? Do they remain empty, or do we use them for something else entirely? What about all of the cars we don’t need if we’re no longer commuting? Do those driverless electric car ride-sharing services become a reality sooner? What will schools and colleges and universities look like?
The full impact on our personal lives and work environments and global climate have yet to be imagined. Six months ago was the era BC (Before COVID, of course). Right now we’re in a sort of no-man’s land. The post-pestilentia AD period may be in another 12-18 months, if all things go well.
We’re living through one of those historic periods like the major events we studied in school. It’s a time that historians a hundred years from now will study in detail and lecture on. It’s both terrifying and exciting. What’s next?
Inaction isn’t an option
How is your research department, your fundraising department, and your nonprofit getting prepared for the AD period?
These are things we’re thinking about here at the Helen Brown Group. Thinking about what the future might look like, and how we will help our clients meet those new challenges. Tools like Zoom and technology like fundraising analytics and machine learning and artificial intelligence will provide many of the exciting opportunities for us to navigate this new world…
…especially if we take advantage of the lessons we’re learning about how to use that technology to bring us closer to each other and help heal our world’s bruises.