CEO Corner: What's the "Next Normal?"
Much has been written about what comes after the pandemic, but the bigger question is when the post-pandemic period actually starts. There are plenty of opinions for what that looks like here in the U.S.: is it this summer once all willing and able adults are vaccinated? Or is it this fall when kids 12 and up are vaccinated and most return to school in person? Is it when the entire North American continent sees a steady decline in COVID-19 infections? Or is it even further out, when we see a global decline in infections?
These are very important questions, but perhaps one that is weighing heavily on healthcare philanthropy professionals is: when will we be able to go back to normal? Normal, in this sense, is about returning to in-person visits with donors, live events, and working at the office. As difficult as this is, however, I might argue that there is no going back to “normal,” as we once knew it. We have to forever change our expectations in these three areas, regardless of infection rates or vaccination percentages.
Employees Will Want the Remote Option
A recent survey by LiveCareer shows that 61% want their employer to allow them to work in a remote capacity indefinitely––even after the pandemic is over. A full 29% of respondents would quit if they were asked to return to the office full-time. 62% of respondents said that they would give preference in the future to employers that allow remote work. Numerous other surveys––including a Pew report done at the end of 2020, and SHRM’s research on returning to work––concluded with similar standings. So, even with an over-index of extroverts in our profession, there is a good chance your team wants the option of working from home some or all of the time, and if you don’t offer it, there is an even better chance that another organization will.
Donors and Board Members Have Made the Pivot With Us
While there isn’t as much data around donor willingness to be “back to normal,” most of AHP members continue to conduct major gift solicitations virtually. In fact, during our AHPrime Leadership Roundtable discussions many of our members reported having the most engaging and well-attended board meetings this past year when meetings were conducted virtually.
Many Fundraising Events Will Sunset
At the same time, we have heard from many members who have decided to permanently sunset several in-person events , shifting their gift officers’ focus onto strategies that produce more return on investment than events have. Many organizations have found that major donors responded well to virtual solicitations, more than making up for any lost revenue from events. Those events were the first to go in their 2021 strategic plans.
So, what is the “next normal?” The surveys I cited above supports the need for our strategies to be donor- and employee-centric. We need to obtain successful virtual solicitations and remote working capabilities so that we can further succeed in our organization’s goals. One way to start is to give our donors and employees the option to meet in a virtual or in-person––whatever makes them most comfortable.
Each of our organizations will have different answers to these questions, so it is important to find a balanced model that is replicable and scalable within our organization––a model that is personalized and customized to each individual staff member or donor. This is not going to be easy, but as we know with the practice many of our colleagues had this past year, it’s possible. We are learning how to do this along with you, and we want to practice what we preach.
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