COVID-19 has affected all of us. But what we don’t know is how this has affected philanthropy. And there’s two schools of thought. There’s the pessimist, and the optimist view. The pessimist view is that because of the economic recession, the depression potentially, that people will have less to give and they will give less and that charities will really struggle to mobilise philanthropic resources. The optimist view is that actually this has changed everything. The way we interact with each other and our understanding of each other’s needs, the love of humankind which is the definition of philanthropy, and that could lead actually to more generous giving, even as a smaller GDP will give a higher percentage of GDP through philanthropy. The reality is we don’t know, and only time will tell. But we at Global Philanthropic have put our heads together to look at how can we actually influence that as professionals in philanthropy and we’ve developed nine guiding principles that we published on our website, and that I’ll be discussing in the next nine weeks. Each one of these principles I’ll be examining and trying to discuss, so that you might think about applying these principles to your work to your organisation. So that together, we have the best outcome for philanthropy. This is something I believe is in our hands, and that we need to work together across the profession, to make sure that we actually make sure that people, although they may have less, actually give more.
9 Mindsets for the Right Outcomes for Philanthropy
In this series of video messages, Global Philanthropic President and Group CEO Ben Morton-Wright shares nine practical approaches to help fundraisers drive philanthropic outcomes during COVID-19.
In fact, these are mindsets everyone involved in philanthropy, and fundraisers in particular, should strive for year-in and year-out, but in 2020, keeping these firmly in focus will help you navigate challenging waters.
For more advice from our global team on practical actions to take in 2020, read also
Philanthropy and Fundraising during COVID-19: time for decisive yet measured action
I wanted to introduce Billy. Billy is my rescue dog, and I got Billy about two years ago and when we got Billy he wouldn’t come near me and look at him now. Not a bad little dog, he’s actually a fantastic dog. And that leads on to my first point of my nine points about how to encourage philanthropy in this awful period that we’re going through and that’s to do with emotion, rather than transaction. And what I want us to think about is how we deal with our stakeholders, our investors, our donors on an emotional basis rather than a transactional basis. Because actually, like, we can see with Billy, who used to not come near me. If you have an emotional relationship. You can do all sorts of things that you thought perhaps weren’t possible. So what does this mean for philanthropy what would the examples be for example education and universities and independent schools in this current period of COVID. Actually they’ve become the centre of the family, they actually ought to interact with their donors in a way that is an emotional experience it’s not about discounts or fees or discounts of service, it’s about how we can create bursaries How can we redistribute money How can we support the community. How can we be central to that family unit that is so important in education and schools. If I’m an organisation, that’s actually struggling with our donor community and the donor community may be struggling to actually give money think of the relationship in terms of an emotional relationship, not a transactional relationship transactional relationships don’t drive big gifts, when we look around the world, and we look at giving small and large, we find that people give for emotional reasons. So organisations need to tap into that and think of emotional, rather than transactional relationships.
My daughter took that picture and it’s actually of starlings not of a cloud as you might think. And what I think is really interesting is to show how in nature, birds work together as a group to help each other, looking for food, defending each other researchers aren’t actually quite sure why starlings do this. And the same is true in terms of how we can work together in the most productive way in terms of philanthropy and that’s the focus of my second point. Today, which is about the collective, rather than the independent. And the idea that we should think about how we can work as a collective, rather than just working on our own. With COVID there’s already been some amazing examples of this with a solidarity response and a huge amount of support for organisations coming together. In each community around the world there’s been partnerships that are new and collective approaches to how we deal with a pandemic, and how we respond. And I think most charities now need to think rather than how do I act independently. How can I act together in a collective way, this may not be relating to COVID it may be relating to lots of other issues, but it’s about that mindset, how can I work with others, how can I reach across to others work in partnership, just like the starlings, we work much better if we work as a collective, if we help each other. And that’s true in philanthropy. So I want us to think not independent about our own organisation about how we can serve our own mission but how we can link, and work with others to make even a bigger, more compelling story around why people should fund us. Why people should come together in philanthropy. This goes back to my point about making people give more when they have less if we work as a collective, and we’re smart about that we’re smart about partnering and we think innovatively about that. I’m sure that people will respond by giving us even more money. I’ll leave you again with this picture of the starlings. It isn’t a cloud. It’s a natural phenomenon but it reminds us of the amazing intimacy of nature, and how nature works together. We’re part of nature, and we should be thinking, how do we work together as a collective, not just independently.
Today I’d like to look at being proactive rather than being reactive to have a positive outcome for philanthropy. How do we make sure that people that might have less, give more. And one of the ways is to make sure that we all as leaders in philanthropy, think proactively. It’s very easy in these times to be constantly responding to incoming emails or questions or inquiries that doesn’t grow the pie, doesn’t grow the whole philanthropic sector. We need to find the space and time to think about how we can act proactively, how we can think in terms of partnerships as I previously discussed, how can we reach out to new donors, how we can develop new ideas. If we‘re leading a foundation, how can we work with other foundations in the world to do things that are innovative and new, how can we find the space in our time to work with our board, our staff to think proactively, in terms of new ideas and new partnerships. What’s clear is the world is in a very different place, new partnerships, new trends, new things are emerging and they’re coming through proactive activity. If we’re constantly being reactive and just retrench into our organisations, it will mean that people are likely to give less, they’re likely to be less inspired, they might need to actually reduce in terms of their giving. It’s very very difficult to constantly be proactive. It takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of commitment, a lot of drive. You have to create what we call in global philanthropic, the time and space to think about these things proactively. So create that time and space, think about how you can be proactive, think about how you can apply that proactivity. Think about how you manage your own time. Make sure you have time to think about things in a proactive way. It’s only through this that we will help to increase philanthropy and increase giving in these very difficult times.
This telephone is a hundred years old and a hundred years ago was when the last pandemic spread the world. And it’s a reminder of how much communication has moved on. And that’s the fourth session that I wanted to look at the importance of communication through this COVID 19 pandemic. What I want to think about and what we all want us all to think about is how can we communicate more with our donors with our stakeholders with other organisations, with everyone involved in the philanthropic community. And we can do that, unlike a hundred years ago, where we had literally a wooden box and a wire to talk with each other. We can do that through handhold we can do it through multimedia we can do it all sorts of ways. And we can do it real time and for virtually no cost. This presents a huge opportunity in terms of philanthropy. In terms of a positive outcome for philanthropy, the most important tool we can use is communication. And we should be communicating more and more during this pandemic. We should use that communication tool, and make sure that our stakeholders, our investors, our donors are fully appraised of what we’re doing, are emotionally invested in what we’re doing and completely supportive of what we’re doing. And they are able to give us more, even though they may have less. It’s mindful to look at this wooden box to see how far we’ve moved on.
Hand sanitiser, it’s almost become a symbol of COVID-19. And what’s inside here is a solution. And what I’d like to think about today is solutions rather than problems. A great example of hand sanitizer deployment is actually Louis Vuitton where they turn their perfume factories that are obviously becoming redundant, with the COVID outbreak into production for hand sanitizer. Again, they were providing solutions to a big problem. So I’d like us to think in this COVID-19 period, about how in our world, we think about solutions, rather than problems, what can we do to actually solve the problems rather than just focusing on the problems and being overwhelmed by the problems. Every time you use a hand sanitizer try and think about what things can I deploy, that’s a solution to the issues that I’m challenged with, rather than looking just at the problems.
These are my glasses, and when I was 17 I first put glasses on. And it was remarkable how it changed what I could see, I could see road signs, I could see things in the future that I’d never seen before. And that’s the thing with today’s fifth session, talking about vision, versus business as usual. And there’s various different ways that you can incorporate vision in your business planning and your fundraising planning in the planning of your Foundation’s work, and that is to envisage to come together and actually spend time to think about the vision for the future. We at Global Philanthropic do a lot of facilitation around envisaging and it’s something that we’ve seen can be really effective about trying to tease out the things that you need to think about for the future so that you can see trends and things that you can do in the future that otherwise you wouldn’t see. The other way of incorporating vision in your organisation is to use external help through perhaps board members or advisors, advisory boards. They bring a different perspective and a different vision to your work. So I do encourage you today to think of the bottom line when I was 17. What a difference, good vision makes for the future.
I believe creativity is absolutely critical, and one example of that is talking philanthropy. This was an idea that came out of a discussion that Global Philanthropic had a few years ago and one of our team suggested, why don’t we create a forum, called talking philanthropy where we can invite everyone to come and talk about philanthropy. I’m pleased to say that they grew, the first of my home. And in central London, and next year, we’re holding it in Singapore to an even bigger audience so creative ideas turned into something very positive. During this covid period. We often have time to reflect, or to work as teams virtually. And I think it’s critical that we actually think during those times of creative ideas that can help our organisations, or sector, and to do our work even better. So just like talking philanthropy. Perhaps reflect on some new ideas and creative ideas for your organisation, as you move forward.
We’ve all had to really dig deep during this period of COVID, and one of the big issues that Global Philanthropic, that a lot of our clients are asking us about is whether you retrench, whether you cut costs whether you do this, or whether you’re more proactive during this period, and actually invest and do more. And this is a very very complicated issue, particularly for organisations that may be having real strains on their financial resources, and there’s no easy answer we need to understand the organisation’s position. However, what we do say is that philanthropy and fundraising is around long term relationships. And if you retrench and stop doing things. It may take many years to get that back. There’s also great opportunities out there, new opportunities through social media or doing things differently. That retrenching and actually digging deep and stopping doing things is going to not enable you to realise, so it’s a difficult subject, but don’t just retrench automatically because it seems logical, we suggest you think hard about what other things you can do proactively to maybe compensate and take a balanced approach.
Innovation is key in how we all progress as a human race but certain innovations change the world. The lightbulb, for example, was an incredible innovation and has changed the world ever since. COVID has also changed the world and we need to innovate, to actually respond to it, and we already are. We’re using technology in a way that we never thought, we’re working differently, we’re communicating differently, we’re fundraising, we’re working across the world in a different way, and organisations also need to innovate. We need to take this time during COVID to think how we can innovate more? How can we have that light bulb moment?