In the midst of any crisis, after the first moments of stopping and taking stock of what is happening around us, the next thing people normally do is jump into action to help. This week my colleague Grace Chandonnet shares her perspective on practical ways that we in prospect research can jump into action to be helpful to our organizations. Be well. ~Helen
We’re a few weeks into the new (for now) normal and lucky to be in an industry that lends itself well to remote work. It seems like a good time to be strategizing around ways to get through an economic downturn with our organizations intact, and also a good time to look ahead and prepare for the future.
I’ve been thinking about things that we fundraising intelligence pros can do to make the present moment more productive and satisfying that will also help prepare us to move ahead through – and past – turbulent times. Here are some practical things that we can do now.
Projects and Planning
This might be a good time to consider all those things on your to-do list that you never seem to have time to fit in. What can you be doing to look to the future and be ready to hit the ground running when we emerge? For example:
- In-person events are off the table right now, but can you work on prospecting projects for future event attendees?
- Now is a great time to plan and implement analytics projects to find the hidden gems in your own databases. Consider appending free or inexpensive data to make your data insight projects even more robust.
- Research and draw relationship maps to identify strong prospects who might know your organization’s friends and family and want to be engaged?
- If you’re working at a school or university, now is a good time to re-imagine your parents research programs as we’re heading into summer.
Supporting the Front Line
Now is a great time to be looking for additional ways to support our frontline fundraisers. Our extroverted colleagues may be really struggling in a time of enforced social distancing. The logistics of business as usual – building relationships with donors and prospects – has been suddenly altered drastically. If you’re a prospect development pro, take the opportunity of having more planning time with frontline colleagues and discuss their priorities and concerns to strengthen your relationships with them.
- Work with fundraisers to help them re-balance their portfolios to set them up for future success. This could include re-assessing capacity with an eye toward the industries that are recession-proof vs. those that might not be – we can lead these discussions and also touch on the overarching economic outlook.
- Use the aforementioned analytics and prospecting projects to target the prospects that will help fundraisers meet their visit and solicitation goals.
- Set up some interactive trainings or presentations geared toward frontline fundraisers – perhaps a quick training on basic research – to give them tools for things that they can do themselves to get ready for a meeting or phone call when there is no time for formal research.
- It might also be a good time to focus on process-oriented training, such as short sessions on entering research requests, prospect management moves, and/or contact reports into your organization’s CRM.
- Now might also be a great time to host a few virtual coffee breaks – that have no set agenda – with small groups of fundraisers and you or your team of researchers just to get to know each other a little better.
Take advantage of trainings and webinars
We can also be focusing on our own professional development. Apra and many of its chapters as well as familiar vendors like iWave and DonorSearch offer ongoing, as well as timely and relevant virtual trainings and webinars on a variety of topics relevant to our industry and ways we can weather the pandemic. Is there something that you’ve been wanting to know more about? Wishing to take a deeper dive into certain industries, or know more about the hands-on intricacies of data analytics? With fewer research requests in the queue, it could be a good time to set aside some time for some of these free training opportunities.
“Self-care” is an oft-used expression that means different things to different people, but there is no doubt that most of us are experiencing an increase in stress and anxiety, and a little self-care couldn’t hurt. It’s more important than ever to take a few minutes during your day to stand up and stretch, step outside and maybe take a walk around the block (as weather and social distancing guidelines allow), try out a meditation app, or to just sit quietly and breathe for a few minutes.
I do believe that our industry will weather this. We are a resourceful bunch (literally!) and we’ve been through troubled waters before. Let’s have each other’s backs and we and our organizations can emerge stronger than before.