Most of us on are week 8 of social distancing/stay-at-home orders—nearly two full months of working, educating, socializing, and living differently than we ever have before. It's been hard for everyone in different ways, and it's easy to focus on the challenges that each of us have faced. This pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, and our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones, and the frontline workers who have continued to show up every single day to keep us safe, healthy, and able to get the essential products we need.
While we recognize all of the bad that COVID-19 has brought to the world, at the DRG Group, we like to focus on silver linings. Gratitude is kind of our thing, so this week our team is choosing to focus on being grateful for the unexpected changes for the better that we're seeing.
One win I am seeing is shops finally embracing technology even if it is out of necessity! From implementing Docusign for gift agreements to embracing video and ThankView for delivery, people are being nimble and fast on their feet and the walls of formality around communications are coming down! Yay!
In addition, the world of kindness in our profession continues, from idea sharing to supporting each other's projects to all out collaboration, seeing this renewed spirit of community is quite inspiring.
One big win during this pandemic is watching my team jump into their work with a new found passion. They are creative, driven, and hungry to serve our donors and their colleagues. They want to find solutions and they are having fun doing it. It is almost as though this crisis has reminded them why they do what they do and, more importantly, why it matters.
Another unexpected win is we are being challenged to re-imagine how to launch our next campaign. We were planning to go public October 2020 with a huge gala and multiple activities including innovation tours, interactive stations featuring every college/school and unit on campus. We had a theme and a plan signed off by leadership and our campaign steering committee. We are going to move forward with our campaign—we even planned for a recession happening and factored that into our overall planning. But we cannot do things the same way. People will not be comfortable gathering in large crowds for some time. So now we get the chance to think differently about how to launch this campaign. We get to break the mold and find a new way to acknowledge our lead donors and motivate and inspire future donors. We are talking with our donors and trustees. No idea is a bad one. It is free-for-all brainstorm and all are welcome. We are laughing and crying—sometimes all at the same time—but we are doing it together. I have the best team around and know we will find the right answer for UC Davis! And that my friends is a great win!
Many organizations, big and small, are taking this time to assess what is really important to their donors and making adjustments to their work and priorities. Changes are being made because it is what is best for the donor, not the organization. This donor-centered decision making will reap rewards for both the short and long-term!
While uncomfortable and a bit chaotic, the forced work environment changes over the last two months has allowed all of us to take a deep breath, refocus, and re-frame both personally and professionally. I am never going to say quarantine is fun or easy, but having this time to genuinely slow down and focus on my output as a professional, as a mother, and as a wife has been a gift I will not soon forget.
One unexpected win during this crisis has been learning that we can let go of certain activities, events, and ways of doing things that seemed unfathomable a few months ago. At the same time, we’ve embraced new ways of working and communicating that also seemed impossible before. It’s a reminder to all that we — and our donors — are more adaptable than we think.
Much of this adaptation — and a HUGE win for the donor experience — happened because we intentionally reconnected with the purpose of our work. Being unable to deliver a product in the way we always have brings new urgency to the topic of innovation, and it’s good for the soul! Our teams are pausing to reflect on WHY we’ve set out to do something and HOW it’s connected to our organization’s mission — resulting in more meaningful and personal engagement with our donors.
I think unexpected win is the renewed sense of importance for professional connections and development. In our pre-COVID 19 lives, we often felt we were too busy to participate in a webinar or a Facebook Live. Now we can't sign up fast enough for these opportunities! I hope this trend becomes a permanent part of our new normal, as the exchange of ideas and the dialogues created in these forums is so beneficial for our daily work and our growth as professionals.
What are some of the unexpected changes for the better you've experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic? Leave them in the comments below—let's spend some time focusing on the positive this week!
The DRG Group