Here’s how we often experience change: first we’re told that change is afoot; then we see a few concrete signs of change, but it’s nothing major to worry about. Eventually, the time comes when we’re told—with some measure of discretion, sensitivity and respect for our feelings—that change is inevitable. And, finally, when we’re well prepared for the news, it happens.
Unfortunately, we’ve been thrust into change. It unfolded at our institutions in a number of ways. Many of us knew what might happen, but we didn’t know when. Some of us were told, almost out of the blue, to pack up our personal items and take them and our laptops home. Others of us went home one sort-of-normal evening and awoke the next day to the news that we had perhaps a few hours to rush back to our work places and retrieve what we needed. We left work undone, refrigerators with food in them, jackets hanging on coat hangers, and plants that would go unwatered. And the nature of that change was different than what almost any of us had experienced before. Some of us—especially our colleagues in the healthcare and social services sectors who serve our most vulnerable populations—have faced the concrete impact of COVID-19 through their institutions’ urgent needs for medical equipment, additional hospital spaces, and other resources. They have been called into action to raise funds for a range of necessities, from food, rent, and emergency housing support to wellness checks, emergency medical care, and other critical needs.
For many of us, this is month two: working remotely, managing remotely, and revising—or inventing anew—much of how we operate. The field of advancement is built on best practices, protocol, and strategy. Suddenly veering from those standards and systems is difficult. How do we keep it all going in the coming weeks and, perhaps, months?
My answer is that during this time of crisis, advancement professionals can (and will) continue to draw upon the strengths that make us good at our jobs: our sense of responsibility and desire to help others; our tenacity, resolve, and determination to reach our goals; and our ability to connect with others on a personal level. We’ll also draw on the energy created by our organizations’ important missions and the role of philanthropy in pursuing those missions.
We will keep it going by accepting our new reality and re-channeling our determination to help our institutions make the greatest possible impact, in the short and long term.
And we’ll keep it going by recognizing that, sooner or later, we will return to our workplaces, carrying with us the experiences (good and bad) and the new best practices forged from the true mother of invention—Change.