Raybin — A Marts & Lundy Company

We're excited to be joining the Marts & Lundy Team!

A Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

First uttered by Stanford economist Paul Romer in April of 2004, this pithy phrase has been making the rounds of late. President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel used it in late 2008, the Governor of Massachusetts followed, and then, the media played its part popularizing the phrase.

It is an axiom that those of us in Development could heed. While our coffers may not be overflowing with money in this recession, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen our organizations, our long-term fundraising success, and ourselves.

Most non-profits have tried and true means of fundraising. But, they're not working very well right now. Perhaps this is the time for some unconventional thinking. Instead of focusing solely on cutting costs, is there some way you can make your institution that much more valuable, for not much more money? As a food pantry, is there access to land where you can grow some of your own food? Can you “pay” the un- or under-employed gardeners with produce? As a church or social service organization, can you offer free sessions in resume-writing and employment counseling – with expertise donated by professionals in the field? As an educational or cultural organization, how might you better use your facilities in off-hours? Some plain old fashioned non-fundraising gatherings or, even a block party? These could enhance your community profile. Think addition, not subtraction.

Those years-in-the-making reliable patterns of giving? Out the window! So, there's no time like the present to get out from behind your desk and go visit with your constituents. While they need to know that you still care, they may also offer some helpful advice as well as alert you to their own ability to support your organization. Just as Washington doesn't have all the answers, neither do those of us who stay inside our offices and assume what others are thinking. “Walkabouts” are also good for the waistline!

What have you done for yourself lately? Is this the time for some more professional development for you? You don't have to think about a master's degree, but maybe this is the time to take that course in planned giving you always promised yourself you would, or improve your analytical skills or computer literacy. Maybe it's the opportunity to meet regularly with a small group of development professionals whose institutions face similar issues. Perhaps as minorities assume a greater percentage of your constituency, this is an opportunity to learn more about their culture or another language. Maybe it's a good opportunity to learn CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. Or yoga for your state of mind – as well as your body. Think self-improvement as a pathway to helping others.

Don't waste the crisis.