Organizations have been in constant flux to respond to 2020. Your organization likely implemented crisis response plans quickly after the onset of COVID-19. These response plans may have transitioned into scenario plans to navigate the ongoing crises of this year and/or your organization made substantial pivots or even pauses to your organization’s strategic plans. As the non-profit sector continues to respond to the devastating realities of the pandemic and our country’s social and racial injustices, The Alford Group elevates four specific elements that will strengthen your implementation and positioning for success, if embedded into your planning processes – crisis, scenario or strategic.
Recently, The Alford Group and Columbia Bank co-hosted the presentation of the 2019 Giving USA data and hosted a panel of Pacific Northwest funders and philanthropists to discuss the findings and relate them to the current realities of giving in the region. The full recorded webinar, including 2019 data and panel discussion, may be found here.
Giving USA, published by the Giving USA Foundation, is part of the Giving Institute which is comprised of leading consulting firms including The Alford Group. Celebrating 65 years, this report is the longest running and most comprehensive and authoritative report on charitable giving in the United States.
The end of the year is around the corner—the single biggest fundraising opportunity of the year! Just how much year-end philanthropic giving will be impacted this year by current events is impossible to know.
In the fundraising forums that I am part of, I often run across the phrase, “We’ve been here before.” I beg to differ! We have not been here before.
With the current events of the past five months, the world is learning how to overcome the discomfort of talking about race and are having some real courageous conversations on how we can move forward together to create lasting change for people of color. This change will create a ripple effect where others who have been marginalized will benefit and increase their ability to thrive as well – no one is left behind.
Growing up in Kentucky during segregation, Jimmie Alford – The Alford Group’s founder – attended an all-white school, and didn’t experience racial diversity until the age of nine when his parents moved to Chicago. The move, due to the closing of coal mines, placed Jimmie’s family in a small apartment in the Englewood community. Jimmie was one of three white students in his third grade class of 40 students.
Along with his classmates, he understood economic diversity and its impact on themselves, their families and their community while living in extreme poverty within a predominantly affluent nation. He also directly and personally saw and felt the impact of discrimination. He decided at a young age that the injustice of discrimination was something he would never allow to penetrate his life and that he would work his entire life to eradicate it in all forms. Like many who grow up marginalized in one way or another, Jimmie vowed to lift himself out of his circumstances, make a better life and never forget the important life lessons learned along the way. His commitment to this goal was unwavering and steadfast.
While Jimmie passed away suddenly in 2012, his spirit and leadership remain with us as the nation and world grapple with the opportunity afforded by the Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed call for equity and social justice. We share his unwavering optimism that better days lie ahead when we all work together.
Diversity is one of seven core values of The Alford Group, and one of Jimmie’s enduring “fingerprints” on the consulting firm he founded in 1979. One manifestation of this commitment is our 20+-year sponsorship of the Diversity Workshop and Diversity Art Showcase at the annual AFP International Conference. While our dedication to diversity and inclusiveness has remained resolute over the decades, the demographics of America – and thus the universe of donors and prospective donors – have changed dramatically. Lessons learned from diverse communities, and the shared values of diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DEI), are more relevant and more essential today than ever before. Continue reading “Diversity in Fundraising: Making a Long-Term Commitment”
It was Machiavelli who first advised “never waste a good crisis.” By that he meant one could look at the opportunities afforded by a crisis to change, to innovate and to improve.
To paraphrase Machiavelli, we advise “never waste a good pause.” Whether it’s a lull in activity or a forced rethinking of business-as-usual, most nonprofits are experiencing a “pandemic pause.” At minimum, everyone should take a moment to consider how to effectively navigate in the new normal. For those who are experiencing a pause, the silver lining is that we can utilize this time to strategically prepare for the future.
We can explore ways to embrace the pandemic pause to PAUSE:
Looking for a way to make your organization’s strategic planning exciting and more relatable? Having a difficult time explaining strategic planning terminology?
Fasten your seatbelt, Toto. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
At first glance, The Wizard of Oz—the widely beloved children’s book by Frank L. Baum, the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, and countless other adaptations for stage and screen—may seem to have little to do with strategic planning: the process through which organizations define their long-term vision and identify strategies and action steps to achieve that vision.
Although the two may seem to be unlikely companions, there is actually a lot we can glean from The Wizard of Oz about strategic planning.
On Wednesday, June 17, The Alford Group hosted a panel of national experts and funders to discuss Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy in 2019 in light of current realities, new opportunities and our future as non-profit staff, funders and philanthropists. The full discussion, along with The Alford Group’s Giving USA report, may be found here.
As Brenda Asare, The Alford Group’s President and CEO, noted as she opened the panel discussion, we all had high hopes for 2020 – momentum within the sector was strong and anticipated to continue at the close of 2019 and through 2020. Of course, no one knew what was coming nor how incredibly important that cushion would be to the survival of many nonprofits. As leaders representing funders and philanthropists across the country, Laura, Marguerite, Steve and Beth offered critical insights into philanthropy today and provided some hope as Brenda said “we must look up and ahead, as that is where we are all going.”
On Wednesday, June 17, The Alford Group’s Karen Rotko-Wynn, Executive Vice President, shared highlights, trends and key takeaways from Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in 2019. Karen’s full presentation, along with a panel discussion with national experts and funders discussing the next normal and the future of philanthropy may be found here.
To be at this moment – mid-June 2020, reflecting on last year’s philanthropy during these challenging and volatile times – well, it feels a bit disconnected. It is hard not to ask why these data points matter; it is difficult to receive this report without wondering what this year’s annual report on philanthropy will say.
However, as the longest running, most comprehensive and most authoritative report on charitable giving in the United States – representing 128 million households, 600,000 nonprofits and 80,000 foundations and businesses – the information reported through Giving USA is deeply relevant. As leaders and staff of nonprofits, it is important to understand data trends and to know where to focus efforts; it is important to know where your organization fits within this data; and it is important to understand this data in relation to navigating our current, very difficult year.
How long can you hold your breath without passing out? A man with strong willpower can hold his breath for two to three minutes. You don’t need me to tell you what happens after eight minutes and 46 seconds of someone holding his knee on your neck.
As people across the world decry the dehumanizing death of George Floyd, it is not lost on me that African Americans have been holding their breath for over 400 years.
Today organizations face new challenges posed by technology, economic trends and uncertain regulatory environments. How can nonprofit leadership rise to meet these demands? Just as the captain of a ship doesn’t look to the waves in order to navigate, your organization is well-steered by strategic thinking.
A strategic plan can transform your organization from surviving to thriving under the guiding star of a strategic plan. Without a clear vision or strategic objective, it will be difficult to generate volunteer enthusiasm and energy for the work necessary to make the weeks, months and years ahead a success.
Every organization is approaching and responding to COVID-19 differently, but regardless of the approach – certainly, all have been considering what fundraising will look like in the coming months and year. We know a rough road lies ahead and no one can predict what this recovery will look like; however, there is some good news.
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy tracks giving during disasters, and what they’ve seen so far with COVID-19 is record levels of seven-figure gifts being made to organizations. America is being more generous than ever.