Without question it is a crazy week in the world. And while we do not yet know the full human or financial impact of this health pandemic, our gratitude goes out to all those who will step into the uncertainty of the weeks and months ahead to continue providing medical care, mental health services, spiritual comfort, child and senior care, public safety, food and shelter, and other necessities of life.
It is also a week when we remember birthdays of two of Armstrong McGuire’s beloved leaders, the late Tom McGuire and the late Judy Bright. Our team has been reflecting on what guidance they would offer if they were navigating this time with us. Here are a couple things that have brought us comfort and perhaps will do the same for you.
Tom often said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Although you may argue that we are in an unprecedented time, our co-founder would likely have harkened us back through history to look at times that paralleled this situation. But even more important, his advice would have taken us back to what we know to be best practice, to what we know to be true. He would have encouraged us to lean in to proven behaviors and strategies—take good care of those around you both personally and professionally, communicate clearly and frequently, and remain calm.
Tom would have said now is not the time to make big, course-altering decisions. Our team agrees. As much as possible, we encourage nonprofits to stay true to who you are, keeping teams and programs intact. Changes may be necessary going forward, but the path will be clearer in the days and weeks ahead than it is right now. A decision made in the moment of uncertainty may prove unwise. Make common sense decisions about how to operate during this time, but we encourage you to pause on shifting courses.
This brings us to the guidance we know Captain Judy Bright would have offered: her famous saying “Do the best you can with what you’ve got.” Honestly, that is all any of can do. We can only make decisions based on the information and the resources we have.
To that end, there is some work which absolutely can and should continue during this time. As we said earlier, if you are healing the sick, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the aged, or ministering to the hopeless, Godspeed. We need you now more than ever.
If you have just launched a search for a nonprofit leader, press on. Leadership is needed now more than ever. We are currently underway with several critical searches and have stayed the course. Virtual candidate interviews and search committee meetings are happening each day. In fact, this has been normal business for many searches even before social distancing became a household term.
If you are a fundraising institution, lean into your stewardship plans. You need those now more than ever. Check in with your donors in the most personal ways possible. Keeping relationships strong is critical.
For many organizations the public health situation brought to light areas that need shoring up. Whether it is your personnel policy, remote working capability, crisis communication plan, reserve building strategy, or diversified funding approach, if you have an area that needs work, now may be the time to give it attention.
The final guidance that Tom and Judy would have offered is to be available to nonprofit leaders, both board and staff. Again, our team agrees. We are here. We are working virtually, and we are happy to jump on a phone or video call to help you think through a strategy or a next move. If you are a current client, we are in the process of reaching as many of you as we can. If you are a past client, you know our virtual door is always open to you. If you are not a client and you need help, send us a request through our website. Ultimately, we are all in this together.
Keep following our social media and blog in the days ahead. We will continue to share best practices and the best thinking to help us all. Yes, we will draw on current thought-leadership, but we will also draw on the wisdom of leaders like our beloved Tom and Judy who navigated challenges before us. After all, there is nothing new under the sun. We simply have to do the best we can with what we’ve got.
The Armstrong McGuire Team
Bert, Shannon, April, Leslie, Paul, Mendi, Katie, Staci, Beth