Philanthropy During Covid | Bryan Rishforth

The COVID pandemic has changed our world. Everyone knows the pithy maxim that change is the only constant, but few realized that the localized epidemic in China could upend the entire world within a few months. COVID has created significant upheaval in personal lives, businesses, and education. Some nonprofits were unprepared for the increased need for their services and the inadequacies of traditional fundraising methods.

As the global pandemic has changed public understanding of our symbiotic relationship with all life, nonprofits are looking to make changes in order to better serve the needs of their communities and the world at large. Risk assessment, fund raising, data management, and consulting will all need to be reconsidered in light of the global situation.

In January, few nonprofits imagined the enormous impact COVID would have on their operations. This lack of preparation resulted in some nonprofits facing employee shortages and insufficient operating funds while facing greater need in their communities. Nonprofits must endeavor to modify risk assessment in consideration of the unprecedented global effect of one localized incident.

Nonprofits will also need to rethink the way fundraising is accomplished. Traditional events such as Galas have become areas of contagion. In addition, incomplete donor databases have caused havoc for some nonprofits as they attempt to contact donors electronically or by telephone. Philanthropy will need to lean toward technology more in the future as traditional means of fundraising and poorly maintained databases have failed in the current crisis.

Restrictions placed on grants have resulted in some organizations being reluctant to use endowment funds while need for services outpaced available staff and financial resources. Reconsidering how funds are allocated and easing restrictions on endowments could reduce the pressure nonprofits are now facing.

Nonprofit organizations are looking to fundraising coaching rather than traditional consulting. Coaches are cost-effective as fundraising and fund management trends are changing. They are creative and agile, thus able to assist nonprofits in making the changes required to navigate the post-pandemic world.

By making thoughtful adjustments in consideration of a global worldview, nonprofits can make more appropriate decisions in the future. Increased attention to organizational management, creative fundraising, easing endowment restrictions, and turning to fundraising coaching will likely be in the future of philanthropy.