Author: Kingsley Aikins, CEO, The Networking Institute

The last few weeks have seen the arrival of the Coronavirus and the world experience unprecedented turmoil. We now find ourselves in a position where it seems just about anything could happen. Today we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Things considered unthinkable in the past have come to pass. Previously lives were permanent and predictable – not any more. Doom and gloom prevails and forecasts of the apocalyptic collapse of the world economy abound. People are nervous and even scared. We are staying apart and yet we all crave connections – we are, essentially, social animals.

This is, and will continue to be, a difficult time for all of us in the non profit sector particularly organizations that depend on the generosity of the public to stay afloat. We all know that things will not return to the way they were. Donors will not be the same. They will reevaluate their priorities. However this might benefit organisations who are involved and aligned with a new form of thinking. People may reflect more on the basics of what makes them human and hanker after a more responsible form of living in a community and a wider world. They may realise that the instant gratification of buying stuff in pursuit of happiness is no longer enough. They may want to do things more simply and slower. They may refect on significance and impact rather than success. They will have noticed the beneficial effects of enforced hibernation on the environment. As we are physically apart we will have to rely on our organisation’s distinct culture to bind us together. Also what we do now will be remembered when this crisis passes. Recent global research by Edelman has indicated that how organisations respond to this pandemic will have a huge impact on customers likelihood to buy their goods or services in the future. Now is the time to show up and step up. The world is watching.

So what should we do and how should we react? We need to really listen to what our people are thinking, feeling and fearing. We need to show anticipatory leadership which is about taking people on an emotional journey and imbuing them with a sense of hope. We need to review and streamline our organisations and sector. We need to be creative and come up with ideas and solutions that would never have crossed our minds if this crisis hadn’t happened. We need to look after ourselves and our colleagues. We need to test drive remote working and see what pieces of it we could keep when things get back to normal. We need to envisage what this new world will look like and plan for it.

The following 25 Tips for Fundraising in Tough Times are based on the premise that this is not the end of the world. At the time of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 Neil Hennessey, President of the Hennessey Funds, was quoted in the Financial Times as saying “Remember that there is only one end to the world and this isn’t it. We will get through this. Like a large kidney stone, it’s going to pass but it’s going to hurt”.

About the author

CEO, The Networking Institute

Kingsley Aikins

Kingsley Aikins is the founder and CEO of The Networking Institute based in Dublin, Ireland. The Networking Institute (TNI) coaches organisations and individuals to reach their full potential through networking. TNI have developed a series of online training courses in Networking, Philanthropy & Fundraising, Speaking & Presenting and Diaspora Engagement.

TNI have worked in 30 countries with governments, multilateral organizations, major corporations and non-profits. Prior to establishing TNI Kingsley worked 21 years for The Ireland Funds, a global philanthropic organization based in the US and before that he was for 8 years the Sydney based representative of the Irish Trade Board and IDA Ireland. He is an Economics and Politics graduate of Trinity College Dublin.