There’s no doubt about it that giving looks different in 2020, but that doesn’t mean you should pull back on your good deeds—it means you’ll have to channel your inner Ross Geller and P•I•V•O•T! Whether you’re a nonprofit or a donor, be proactive and creative. As we mentioned in one of our latest blogs, 5 Solutions to Support Donor Giving, there are many ways for both individuals and donors to give. With a little creativity and a lot of heart, you can flourish as this season’s holiday armadillo.
Shake things up
Don’t be discouraged by COVID-related obstacles—nonprofit organizations need you now more than ever. With public health and the associated restrictions and risks continuing to pose a perpetual moving target, those at the helm of nonprofits are climbing an uphill battle to keep up with demand for services, while staying motivated themselves and keeping spirits high for their staff and volunteers. So, what can you do?
For business leaders
Encourage your employees to take time to volunteer. Allowing grace and flexibility will empower your employees to step up for the community and know that you have their back. It can be as simple as offering time at their kids’ school, the animal shelter where they adopted their four-legged family member, their place of worship, the nonprofit organization down the street or even for the sweet elderly couple they pass on their walk to the mailbox. If you are in a position to do so, matching an employee donation is also a positive incentive. Be a catalyst for volunteerism this season and not an obstacle—you, your employees and your local community will all reap the benefits.
Don’t be afraid to approach the subject with your supervisor. Let them know where you are in your head and your heart—this will build a better 360 degree relationship and affirm they know you are an employee that is willing and ready to step up for the community. Doing this allows you to be a voice for volunteerism, not only for you, but for others at your workplace who may have not known how to tackle the subject with management. Offer to be the office or company volunteer coordinator and research organizations in need to share with others. Being vocal and putting yourself out there shows initiative and heart.
Advice to Nonprofits
And for those in the most difficult position of all, as a nonprofit organization, it’s time to test new donor and volunteer strategies— learn and adjust as needed. 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic is something nobody saw coming, so it’s understandable that organizations are reassessing and balancing increasing needs versus decreasing donor and volunteer support. We touched on this in our November blog, so be sure to check it out.
Resist the urge to give up and instead, give back
So, where to start? This can be daunting if you don’t know where to start, and might even be discouraging as you encounter COVID-19 restrictions. First of all, you need to determine your comfort level for volunteering your time in-person versus from at home, as there are opportunities available for both. From standing outside in the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) handing out food boxes in a drive-through food distribution line to writing letters of encouragement to front line workers or isolated senior citizens from your home—there are options. Additionally, if you are financially able, nonprofit organizations always welcome cash or gift card donations. We’ve identified considerations here to help guide your philanthropic journey and find the right fit for you.
- You have skills. Most organizations have limited resources in all areas, including operational, business needs, technology, and administrative. If you are a master web developer and you notice an organization has a less-than-functional website, give them a call and offer help. Perhaps you are in marketing and can help amplify an organization’s message with your eyes closed—reach out to their director and set up a meeting. And, right now with hospitals, businesses, and even schools in need of PPE, if you can sew, your skills are in great demand. Brainstorm ways you can offer your talents and identify an organization that needs your particular skill set.
- Give time. Organizations that are short on people power right now need the most valuable thing of all—time. Start local with organizations you are familiar with or passionate about and check out their website or even better, pick up the phone and give them a call. If you are unsure where to start, you can do a Google search or look at sites like Volunteer Match, Create the Good, and United Way.
- Donate. Donating cash or gift cards will never be turned down by a nonprofit organization and is always appreciated. No matter how small, any amount can help. If it’s not the time financially for you, there are other ways—donate a few canned goods to the food pantry, blankets to the homeless shelter, treats for the animal shelter, or any other useful and essential items that you have access to. Believe us, your unwanted items are wanted (and needed) somewhere else.
- Be kind. It’s the little and unexpected things that can contribute more than you know. Have grace and be flexible when dealing with your co-workers, your kids’ teachers, while waiting in a long drive-through line, or standing outside in the rain waiting to be admitted into the grocery store. Pay for the person’s coffee who honked at you in line, drop a friendly note to your postal carrier in your mailbox, leave snacks out for the delivery person, call your Grandma’s best friend to make sure she has groceries for the week, or send a “miss seeing you” letter to someone you’ve lost touch with. Even if you are unable to volunteer or donate anything at this time, your kind actions might just make someone’s day and inspire them to make someone else’s day. We’ve had our share of unwelcome surprises this year, it’s time to spread some nice surprises as we close out 2020.
The moral of the story? Be willing to pivot in your plans, embrace giving back, even if it looks and feels different this holiday season. Be creative and don’t be shy—your help in any form won’t be turned away and will be exponentially appreciated this season.