Early in our K2 days we worked with a branding company to determine some key phrases that would help tell our story and how we operate with clients, eventually landing on a brand that reflects our experience tackling even the most turbulent times: ‘Calm Confidence with a High Intensity Work Ethic.’ Today this approach with clients in fundraising and communications is needed more than ever.
Things around the world and across the country are intense right now. Washington, D.C. is more chaotic than normal with a Speaker of the House vacancy and a presidential election a year away, we’re all watching the horrors of war in Israel and inflation continues to rock our economy. The world feels like it’s on fire.
Donors are fatigued and frustrated leading to fundraising dips across the board with both nonprofits and political clients. The economy is uncertain, impacting the “middle of the road” donor who gives to causes with what is now a more limited amount of disposable income. The sponsorships that are usually $10,000 are now $5,000.
In the communications world, it feels like everyone has something to say but there isn’t enough oxygen for everyone. News outlets have tightened their hold on who is a newsmaker and what is newsworthy.
There’s no TED Talk coming your way, and no there is not a full moon, although everyone on our K2 team keeps checking on the daily. We have been in uncharted waters before and we will find our way through again, but we’re going to remind you of a few things that will hopefully help you get through this tense time.
- Remain consistent in your daily blocking and tackling tasks. The law of averages will come into play here. You may be striking out a lot but eventually you’ll find a win by continuing to plug away at the basics.
- Are you reaching out to your five daily prospects or reporters every day?
- Are you touching your major donors or reporters every week with a status update?
2. Don’t overreact and execute your plan. Just because a sponsorship or direct mail dips or a booking producer takes a pass on your client, it’s a season and it will pass. Stay the course, maybe dial in expenses to offset some of your financial loss or manage expectations. Whatever you do, always keep working your plans. Strategic plans don’t predict the future but they do keep you moving forward. You do need movement to achieve progress.
3. Be flexible, adjust your approach. We liken a lot of our work to fitness. Kristen used to teach classes for years and we’re both up before the sun working out. When you plateau in fitness, it’s because your body is used to what you’ve been doing and it’s time to adjust. The adjustment time is hella hard because you’re doing movements that are different and your body is not used to them, but give it 2-3 weeks and you will notice a change. While we always preach consistency, our business is also about constantly adjusting your approach.
- Should you do fewer events and more small donor roundtables?
- Maybe you need to engage your biggest donors to help you navigate?
- Is it time to try a new message to see if that one takes?
- Do you need to try more aggressive press tactics to get noticed?
4. Communicate. A lot. People want to know expectations and they also want to know there’s a plan if things aren’t going as planned. The best way to ensure people feel good is to communicate regularly.
- Do you need more weekly check-ins to keep people abreast of changing tactics?
- Does everyone understand the plan or the process? Will putting it on paper help people communicate better?
Kristen recently had the privilege of meeting Pablo Lopez in a fluke airport run-in. Her son was over the moon excited and Kirsten may have told her he was the Minnesota Twins’ ace pitcher and she’d be inspired by his story.
For those of you who don’t know, Lopez speaks four languages, graduated high school at 16 and was on his way to medical school before taking an MLB contract. We’ll leave you with this quote from our rising Twins star:
“Pressure is a privilege. That means a lot of good things can be expected from you and it’s all about embracing the opportunity, embracing the challenge and then at the same time, not trying to do too much.”
-Kristen Sheehan and Kirsten Kukowski
Kristen’s son, James, with Pablo Lopez