Hi, all. As I noted yesterday, I will temporarily shift this blog from my usual Deeeep Thoughts to a more practical sharing of simple updates and what I’m calling Good Ideas — practical measures that you, your business, your business community and your organizations can do right now to help address the crisis, particularly the local and small business impacts of the current pandemic. As I noted before, this is a supplement to the Facebook Live update I am doing every weekday at 2PM Eastern / 11:00 Pacific. You don’t have to be a Facebook user to view that, you can just open it in any browser. And it archives immediately.
Also, hello to my friends at the American Independent Business Alliance, where I just recently started to help manage communications and networking. For sake of reach and speed, I’m going to cross-post these to the AMIBA blog for the time being as a means of getting you all better information, too. We’re working on ramping up our ability to share information on both platforms, so look for more from both Wise Economy and AMIBA in the near future as well. If this work matters to you and you can swing it, please consider joining AMIBA – it will help make all of this work stronger and better.
As many of you probably know, the Senate passed the new stimulus package, and the House was set to approve it by voice vote but one particular …choose term of your choosing… is planning to insist on a roll call vote and is now forcing a lot of representatives who had gone home to social distance… to get on planes and go back to the House chamber in Washington. So it appears that this will go through, but it’s another monkey wrench. Stay tuned.
A broader update is that I’m seeing more and more organizations compiling databases of resources CommonFuture(the former Balle) is circulating a Google Doc version, Co.Starters has one that is pretty user friendly, and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has launched one focusing particularly on state and federal financial support. As a result, two small recommendations:
- I was starting to work on a similar resource compilation for AMIBA in partnership with other ecosystem builders, but I am starting to be concerned about having too many of these databases rolling around. If you have started one, or are collecting resources in some manner, please look into partnering with one of these organizations or others in your community – especially if they have the technical chops to create something that is easy for people to use. With most people in this work under the gun, and everyone stressed, throwing them a thousand-line spreadsheet with no sorting or categorization may not help.
- If you are one of the owners of a relatively user-friendly database like the ones I’ve described, I would recommend that you do everything you can to broaden the number of people who are inputting into it. Everything is developing so fast, and people are so urgently seeking information, that having your one or two staff people do it in their free time (or whatever time they can scrape between webinars and juggling small children and what all) is a sure fire way to not be helpful. If you are not going to a fully crowdsourced method like an open database, strongly consider opening the ability to post to three or four or 10 of your closest collaborators. This might also be a good way to leverage some of the folks you know who are waiting at home, and help them feel useful to the community.
Y’all got a bonus Good Idea in that last section. 🙂
Your Good Idea for today is particularly relevant to local nonprofits, Chambers and Economic Development Organizations. While a lot of you are heavily focused on your members or client right now, I know a lot of you are worrying about your own ability to continue to operate, especially if you usually depend on memberships, event sponsorships, and other streams that are disrupted or at risk of being disrupted. The key at the moment is to demonstrate that your organization is playing an important role now, and will play an important role in the recovery.
Here’s a few recommendations, derived in part from my experience and in part from NonProfitPro:
1) Demonstrate that you are relevant. Hold online webinars with an expert, or a town hall feedback event with your members. This is not only important for them, it’s important for your organization’s ability to build not just awareness, but a tribe of people who will advocate for you. This is the time to demonstrate the value of your connections, your people and your audiences. My guess is that people have never been hungrier for your information. This is not the time to be shy about making your work public, or give in to your fear of technology or dislike of how you look on a camera (believe me, I get that!). It’s time to be out there early and often – and archived. Thankfully most online communication technology can be saved indefinitely and used to make the case for your usefulness down the road.
2) Talk to people, especially key funders. Make sure that your past donors and sponsors not only know what you’re doing, but beleive that you are there to be useful to them. Ask what they’re experiencing. Share what you’re doing and ask for their advice, even if you don’t have something to put their money into right now. Co-design with them, to the extent that you and they have the bandwidth to do so. This is not the time to stay at arms length (well, it is, but…). You can engage them, get them excited about your work in new ways and build not just donors, but partners who may take on your cause as their own. But you have to talk to them, and talk to them as often as you can.
3) New fundraising campaigns. I forgot to mention this one on the video, but now (or soon) may actually be a good opportunity to launch a crowdfunding or directed funding campaign. People are anxious and wanting to see how to be helpful, and for many of the folks who care about your community, there’s only so many gift cards they can buy. If you can make the case to them that you are helping these businesses and the community survive and come back, your appeal may actually attract more supporters, and you can then use that support to help the businesses in your community. Perhaps more importantly, this could widen the numbers or members or supporters you have, and give you a broader fundraising base for the future. We talked about two online fundraising platforms that may be useful for either businesses or nonprofits on yesterday’s blog
Enough for now. Make sure you watch today’s video for a good view of Della’s Pissed Off Face due to unexpected technical interference. And if anyone knows how to do the Darth Vader choke thing, let me know? Might come in handy.
You’re doing important, good stuff. Let’s go get ’em … safely.