An Update on Covid Philanthropy

As we continue to move forward with our clients campaign plans, we find that the ‘pause button’ set during these past months has been released for many organizations. This has been especially evident with the successful completion of feasibility studies, ongoing campaigns, and engaged strategic planning for institutions throughout North America.

Just this week, I led a three-day virtual seminar with participation of 24 healthcare fundraising leaders. We had representation from organizations in the United States, Canada, and Germany. As we completed introductions, I was pleased that all were moving optimistically and aggressively in all phases of campaign planning and implementation.

I encourage you to follow their lead! All confirmed, and our firm can attest, that what has changed is how each program is being conducted. The majority of all communications with probable donors and leaders are being secured through FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or telephone. However, now we are finding more and more constituents are open to face-to-face visits.

For example, we are partnering with Evenglow Lodge—A United Methodist Continuing Life Community in Pontiac, Illinois for a study that will begin in less than two weeks. Charlotte Hoffmann, Development Director has informed me that half of the interviews already secured will be in person. Charlotte says: In confirming the visits, I am realizing that some folks really prefer in person. Often these are business people who are in their offices and have daily contact with others anyway, in the course of their day-to-day work. Just a few short weeks ago I would have found this to be nearly impossible. It must be noted that this is a rural community and strict social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

The simple reminder is that we must never speak for our constituents. Let’s be sensitive but give options to all, and let them determine how they would like to be approached. It is fully their decision. We are encouraging all of our clients to prepare for this opportunity. While it will be a long process (depending on your community), we should be open in planning today for all facets of our work to include future face-to-face visits, at the appropriate time. Until then, be encouraged that virtual communication is being met with significant success.

Mike Farrell, FAHP is Principle of Philanthropy and Coach headquartered in Canada. As an esteemed colleague and friend of the firm, his experience with a client just weeks ago, underscores this truth.

He writes: I have just completed a Capital Campaign Planning Study. 43 community interviews. I was reluctant to do a virtual study, but was inspired by the clients moving and urgent case. I realize it is a small sample, but we experienced the highest participation rate of any study I have ever done. People were at home and eager to engage. There was an empathy level that was off the charts and discussion of legacy was well received.

My theory is that the pandemic and the discussion around racial bias have fueled people’s philanthropic instincts. Regarding legacy giving, I believe that gifts are more likely to be inspired than solicited. Perhaps self isolation and social distancing is triggering high levels of introspection…

Aim High,

– Douglas A. Dillon, CFRE
Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners