Home foreclosures...job loss...health insurance, or lack thereof...plummeting 401ks....
Millions of Americans are hurting. And the hurt is crossing all racial, social and economic divides. No one is immune. People who never in their lives have needed help may now be knocking on your door.
At the same time, while demand for your organization’s services is increasing, its ability to raise funds is decreasing.
Tired of all the doom and gloom? Need something to cheer you up? Consider the following:
This is your time!
There is no better time to build a strong, solid, long-term brand for your organization.
This recession, as ugly and unrelenting as it may seem, is not going to last forever (if it does, get out the loin cloths and clubs and find yourself a warm cave). Eventually things will turn around and people will get back on their feet.
Help someone out of a tight jam now—treat them honestly, with dignity and respect, and deliver even a modicum of positive results—and they will remember you and your organization long after this crisis is over.
I once worked on contract for a major nonprofit relief organization. One day one of its development officers excitedly informed me that someone had just given the organization a multi-million dollar donation because years earlier it had helped several family members through a time of desperate personal need.
This may not happen to your organization...but it could.
The concept of community is coming back. Be a part of it.
It took a crisis of the proportions we are in now for many of us to realize that we are not red or blue, liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, rich or poor, white or black, etc., etc., etc. In fact we are Americans, and we are all either going to sink or swim together.
Position your organization, therefore, not only as a provider of services to the people it directly helps, but rather as part of a greater movement to bring your community closer together during this time of near universal need. Once again, your efforts will be remembered long into the future.
Values are changing. Change with them.
Again, it’s taken a crisis, but people are beginning to re-examine their values and asking "What’s important." There appears to be less focus on money and more on valuing family and relationships.
Take a lesson. Countless organizations, in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, thought it was all about the dollars. Many are no longer with us because of that reason.
Keep your focus on your mission—and the money will eventually follow.
Give yourself a break.
If we’ve learned anything from this crisis, it’s that there is no such thing as predicting what the future holds. People who worked hard and watched their assets and portfolios grow over the last few decades thinking they were on the road to an easy, care-free retirement or financial existence, have, in a flash, discovered otherwise.
Give yourself a break. Forget about the future for a while. Instead seek out what I call spontaneous moments of joy (SMOJs). They are all around us, including in the smiles of our loved ones and the people we serve. If you’re truly alert, you might even identify and appreciate a SMOJ when walking out your door one morning and getting a nostril or two full of spring in the air.
If nothing else, this is the time to strengthen your brand and refocus on what’s truly important. Besides, SMOJs help relieve stress. Trust me.
Larry Checco © 2009
See our review of Checco's book on branding: 5 Steps to Defining Your Nonprofit's Brand
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