Digital Dynamite with Kishshana Palmer

Digital Dynamite with Kishshana Palmer

April 2, 2020
60 minutes

Kishshana Palmer · CEO, Kishshana & Co. | We're all sharing this COVID-19 lockdown with some unwanted roomies: anxiety, boredom, and fear of the unknown. What we need, though, is to invite over our good friend let-loose-laughter! Join Funraise CEO Justin Wheeler and your dynamic digital godmother Kishshana Palmer for a lesson in pivoting your humor, self-care, and, yes, fundraising strategy during the Time of Corona.


Nonprofits are no stranger to bringing the best possible outcomes out of bad situations—often with nothing but a wish and duck tape.

COVID-19 is next-level stuff, though. And since it's possible that the changes to... everything we know about everything we do (!) have you stressed, Funraise CEO Justin Wheeler and your dynamic digital godmother Kishshana Palmer are here to offer assistance and encouragement (and maybe deep breathing.)

Let these experts walk you through the best way to manage through the mayhem and transition your nonprofit's fundraising strategy into the digital realm while keeping your fundraising revenue on track.


Justin: All right. Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining. Week three of our live Q&A series, we're going to give it about another minute before we jump in as the virtual queue keeps going. So give us about a minute and we will get started. So I'm just gonna shout out people. Emma joining from Pennsylvania. Hello, Jennifer. Joining from somewhere but having Zoom difficulties. We have Mel from Montana. Brooklyn. Nancy from Brooklyn. Jenna from Long Island. OK. Now it's going way too fast for me to keep up with. So we've got people from all around the country which is very exciting. I am very excited for today's guest who has just loads of experience in the nonprofit space. And so we'll jump into introductions and go from there. Every one of you, if you've joined us in the past, you know the drill, the bottom of the zoom screen is a Q&A where you could submit questions. And we're gonna essentially start with the top-rated question. So as you're putting in a question and you reviewing other questions, just give it a thumbs up and the ones that get rated the highest will start from the top and go down from there. We'll answer as many questions as we possibly can. And we're gonna try to focus, if this is your third week in a row joining us, the focus is really going to be focusing on questions we haven't answered in the past. So we also want to take that into consideration. And so, yeah, so go ahead and start putting in your questions. Kishshana Palmer, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm so excited to have you here in terms of background. Everything from fundraising to marketing to talent management. I'd love it if you could just start off with an introduction. Justin: Tell us about yourself, what you do and why perhaps you're excited to join this live Q&A today.

Kishshana: Yeah. As far as I was born by the river, no.

Justin: You don't wanna hear me do that.

Kishshana: Come on Justin! No, but thank you so much for having me on today for this Q&A. The last two weeks the Q&A's have been like jampacked and so I'm super glad to add to the conversation. For those of y'all who I have not had the gift of spending some time with you. I'm Kishshana Palmer. I am the CEO of Kishshana and C.. We are a boutique Management and Leadership learning company, really focused on helping everyday leaders just like you live well and lead well. And I got into this work because I just love people and I grew up in the social sector at a small stint just in investment banking. But then I found my way! Now my way! And with a background in marketing and finance came into fundraising. And they haven't been able to get rid of me since I've been trying to leave but it just won't let me go. And so I spent my career at really, some really great organizations, everything from traditional affiliate based nonprofit organizations to small grassroots organizations to really, really fast-growing social ventures. And so I've been able to see, you know, the beauty and the bounty in our sector over the years and some of the challenges. I mean, a good number of them as well. And so super excited to be here today.

Justin: Awesome. And it looks like you have some real fans. I'm looking through kind of a chat over here. I mean, so that's awesome. But I mean, when we reached out I was so excited that you agreed to come on to the live Q&A just because I think, you know, there's a lot of focus around and we're gonna talk about obviously fundraising. But what I love in regards to your background and what you've been so successful at is helping leaders kind of manage through unprecedented times, obviously, like what's going on with COVID. None of us have been through it before and there's no playbook to respond. But you help lead talent through difficult times. And so I'm excited to kind of dive in and talk about that today, along with the multiple other topics. So thank you again for joining us. Before we jump into the Q&A for everyone listening, I want to share a new resource that we launched and also at the end I want to make sure that we have the right information. We'll include this in the follow-up email as well, Kishshana, but information for people to reach out to you during this time and the services that you can help them with as they navigate. So let me share my screen, I want to share one new resource that we launched on our site today. And this will also be included in e-mail, but basically just a bunch of resources around COVID-19 digital strategies. A lot of the Q&A's that we've been, a lot of the questions that we've been answering you could find here on the site and then also you can book time to talk with individuals about online fundraising, digital fundraising and so forth. So if you're in need of consultation, free consultation, you know, as it relates to digital fundraising, something that we're always happy to do and so reach out. And again, more info will be in a follow-up email after today's Q&A. So Kishshana, where I'd love to get started is before we jump into the crowdsourced questions. I'd love to just kind of hear from your perspective, what are some of the best things that nonprofit executives and leaders, managers, directors can be doing right now in the midst of the chaos that COVID-19 has sprung upon us all?

Kishshana: I would say there's one thing and it's a big umbrella y'all. So get under it, love on your people. You know, if you follow anything if you type in Kishshana Palmer and love. I talk about loving on your staff and I'm not talking about romantic love. I'm talking about being able to make sure as a leader that you unfold a little bit of vulnerability about yourself so that you can really be present with your team and because you are not in their presence doesn't mean that you can't be present. And present for me literally means removing the distractions so that you can look your team members in the virtual eye when you ask them "How are you today? Truly?" And leave space in your meetings, in your conversations, in your email follow-ups for that response. I think that is something that's so important that every single leader, whether you're leading a vertical, a department, an organization, that you can be doing right now. Love on your people let them know that they are still your number one innovation, number one asset in your company, organization or institution because, without your folks, I don't care how good your mission is, it's not going anywhere.

Justin: Totally. I talked about this actually a couple days ago as well. In times that we're in today. You know the tendency that we often see is leadership starts to cut marketing or fundraising. And typically, you know, roles associated with that. I think now more than ever, it's important to keep as many of your team members as possible and to find other areas where you can cut. Maybe it's scaling back programs at the moment while we weather the storm and have a better understanding. But I love that idea of like taking care of your team and ensuring that they feel comfortable and confident. I mean, you know, we don't know all the answers, we don't know how things are going to unfold. But we can be transparent about, you know, how this is impacting the business, how this is impacting our community and our work.

Kishshana: And allow our team members to get creative. And one of the things you just said about, you know, often time, our instinct is to treat our marketers, our communicators and our fundraisers like we do our order whatever things start to get a little - you know, a little tight, little scary over there. You start cutting folk and cutting the very things that we need to be able to do, the very folk we need to be able to use to propel our organizations to move forward. So we don't need to have a fire sale around our mission friends. OK, this is not that's not the time - we don't need to treat our organizations like we're going out of business. What we need to do is really reflect both to our stakeholders, who we are serving, by our mission and to our donors who want to walk alongside us, that we understand how to get real crystal clear around the two to three things that really matter to drive mission forward during this time. That's what the leadership needs to be thinking about and acting on. So I love that you, I love that you brought that up.

Justin: You know, that reminded me. I was talking with one of our customers actually yesterday and he shared something that they just recently did, actually this week, with their basically their top donors, individuals that have been bought into their mission for a very long time and have supported it. You know, in the ups and downs of their history and they held a Zoom call and there was, you know, 30+ of these like key donors that were on the call. And the call wasn't an ask. It wasn't an appeal. It wasn't like, hey, like, you know, now more than ever, we need your money. Right. Which there is a time and place for that. Instead, it was like, hey, this is how our organization is responding to COVID-19. These are the challenges we see in front of us. This is how we're planning for those challenges. And you know what? Like this might change in two days from now or in three days from now as things are moving so quickly. But we just wanted our key stakeholders or key donors to know this is our plan. Any questions, any thoughts, any concerns, any advice? And immediately following the call, two of the donors reach back out and said, hey, if revenue ever dips in a month, let us know, we want to support. Right. So just making your donors aware of, we understand there are some stressful times ahead. We don't know exactly what's that's going to mean for the bottom line. This is how we're planning. And let your donors jump in and say, hey, keep us posted because we want to help in these, you know, stressful times and so forth. So, yeah, that transparency, not with just the team, but with your key stakeholders and donors who've been with you, in the long run, is going to pay dividends as things continue to unfold and the uncertainty increases.

Kishshana: Absolutely. Love that.

Justin: All right. So let's jump into the questions from our friends here listening. We're going to start with Katie Joseph. The question here is, what are the best days slash times to do virtual fundraising event, format similar to fireside chat inspiration pitch. We have no idea when to do it, but would love your input.

Kishshana: So I'm going to give y'all some opinion and not facts to be clear. And so I'll give you a fact. Fact one you've got to know and understand how your donors already move. The second thing is this is the perfect time, Justin has laid it out for you, to ask them how they want to jump in. The third thing is, as fundraisers, we are taught to test - A/B testing, it should be a part of your organizational ethos as it relates to how you fundraise. And so try something that is, the stakes are not as high. Everything feels high right now. But everything that feels urgent is not urgent. So take something that doesn't feel stakes as high and test that for the time of day that for your other events, when they were in person, that donors were most active while asking them to give you that input. So you're going to have to change your engagement strategy, your engagement tactics, not your strategy. And I want to make sure Justin that we get time to talk about that because I've heard a lot about strategy. I've read a lot about people using the word strategy when they really need tactical approach. But think about the tactic you're going to use to get to the outcome, which is fill in the blank because your event outcomes may shift some. But they should be monetary and non-monetary goals for every touch you have with your donors.

Justin: That's great. Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, and I love how you differentiated tactics and strategy because, you know, overall strategy isn't changing as it relates to fundraising. It's really tactics that are changing the way in which you're actually going about making the ask or cultivating the donor or engaging the donor. You know, it's the same. The same things are necessary, like transparency with donors, delivering impact, you know, giving them the information that's needed. And in terms of how that's being delivered, it's looking a little bit different in, you know, in the COVID-19 world. So that was, I don't have too much more to add because really it was brilliant what you said. So thank you for, thank you for sharing that. Here's another, here's another great question. We want to be mindful of the crisis, but also want to start making asks with our donors. How frequently should we be making asks?

Kishshana: So I have a couple of things about this one. So one, what does your cultivation like routine already look like? And so really thinking about where your donor partners are on their donor journey at this particular moment. And so if you had potential donors or current donors, you're looking to ask them to level up and increase their leadership giving that they were already at the point of asking for that gift. You got to get real with them and say, you know, here's how our organization is responding to this particular season of life, because it's a season for sure. It's going to be a long season, but it's the season. And here is how we're showing up in the world to be able to activate our mission. Here's how we'd like you to be able to plug in. Let's talk about it. Would you consider gift of? So if they were already at the point where you were going to be asking them for a gift prior to this pandemic, then you've got to shift your message. You've got to shift the way you come in the house, take off your shoes, take over your hat, put everything by the door. But you're still there for dinner. So that's the first thing. The second thing is and I heard Laura Frederick say this yesterday and she's like, you know, one of the masters of the ask. And she said, you've got to be able to say to your donors, listen, I know that we have come to you recently and thank you so much for your gift. And we're coming to you again because things have shifted. We know that we're asking again in a moment where we normally wouldn't. But we would love for you to consider a gift of exact amount - fill in the blank, because this is the work we're looking to do right now. Have that work laid out. And we know that you care about our organization and our mission and also making sure that during this time that we are stable and that we are able to move powerfully through this time, that's Kishshana's paraphrasing of what she said yesterday. So being able to acknowledge that you're coming back for another bite at the apple more frequently and also have a clear sense of what the donor is going to be joining you to do is critically important, Justin what you think about that?

Justin: Yeah. No, I mean, I 100% agree. And, you know, I would go as far as to say, you know, we have to make sure that fundraising doesn't stop. I mean, we do obviously, we need to be tactful and we need to know, you know, how our donors and different segments of our donors are being impacted, you know, by this, because it would be incredibly insensitive to go to a donor who just lost their job and to ask them, you know, to contribute. And so I'm a big fan of, you know, understanding the impact across the donor file, how this is impacting your donors and so forth, but not to slow down the fundraising in other areas and through other, you know, channels and so forth, because missions can't stop. I mean, you know, I talked about this quite a bit as well. But, you know, the climate crisis isn't going to slow down for us or world hunger isn't going to slow down. Animal rights aren't just all of a sudden, you know, get better. Like we need to push forward regardless. And this is one of the other top questions on here is, you know, like should we slow down our fundraising basically if we're not like first responders? And I just think, no, it just you know, there are enough philanthropists, donors, activists in this world to move all missions forward, to move all causes forward in the right direction. Yes, it's going to be harder and resources are going to probably be tighter. And maybe individuals are going to give as much as they were, you know, in Q4 of 2019. But we can't stop, like we've got to focus, like we've got to go back to the drawing board and look at what are the tactics we have to deploy this quarter, next quarter to try to still hit those revenue targets. So I agree that like, you know, the approach and the way we approach a donor, it might change, you know, the donors that were queued up for gifts in Q1 or in Q2, you know, just having that very honest conversation of like, hey, listen, like, you know, over the last six to eight months, we have been building this relationship. And my goal was to invite you to make a gift to the organization. The world has changed. I want to know is this still something that is on your radar, something that you can do? So it's a little bit different. It's a little bit different of approach and it's inviting the donor and understanding the donor. And, you know, I'll relate this to actually right before this, I got a call from one of our vendors. You know, it's one of our biggest contracts in terms of our expense. And they reached out, their executive team reached out and said, hey, we just want to check in. How is this impacting, you know, Funraise? How is COVID-19 impacting your business? We just want to we want a health check. We want to know, you know, how can we work with you this year to ensure things are on track? That sort of level of attention to your donors is just as important. So do you have any thoughts on that before I move to the next question or?

Kishshana: It goes a long way, I think. Here's the thing, friends. If you weren't feeling bold before this current like situation we're in with COVID, then you got to really just jump into yourself and step it up now. Because if you weren't treating, if you used to treat your organization as urgent because our missions are critical, then the criticality of it has not shifted. The way you articulate what is critical has to shift. And so the sophistication of your ability to be able to work with your Comms team or if you are the Comms person, we're able to learn how to be able to shift that narrative, is going to be critical. And that's what I see a lot now and that's what some of my clients are reaching out to me for. They're like, OK, Kishshana, come on, help us with the words and the language and figuring out how to communicate urgency in a time where everything feels urgent, except us.

Justin: Right. I think, you know, there's been organizations that have done this really well. I share this as an example last week, but one of our customers Dig Deep. They launched, you know, a campaign on World Water Day, which was last Sunday. And, you know, they were definitely nervous. Are we're gonna be able to hit our goal or able to do better than we did last year, World Water Day was a big campaign. Lots of resources went into it. And although, you know, water isn't directly related and I wouldn't put clean water as like a first responder, sort of like, you know, approach, they tie that into hand-washing rather. Okay, if our constituents if our beneficiaries, can't have clean water, they're not going to be able to wash their hands. And this is a problem, right. So that was really creative way to tie in, you know, the urgency of why water is, you know, obviously for her general livelihood is important. But, you know, as it relates to COVID-19, that was brilliant. So here's another, I'm really excited to hear how you're going to answer this question. I think you're gonna have lots of good advice, not to put you on the spot, but to put you on the spot. What is your best advice on structuring our days amid the work from home situation and how do we keep ourselves mentally well during this stressful time?

Kishshana: I literally just recorded a video on this, this morning, so funny. And so I was talking to my friends over at Martha Stewart Living this week about how to do time management, how to structure ourselves, what do our routines look like? And y'all, I know that you see my bright, shiny face, but I am an introvert to my core and before this whole thing sort of exploded worldwide, I was like, oh, we're gonna be at home again? All right. And so one of the things that I will share with you first is getting that mental shift that you're not locked up at home, literally, cuz a lot of us are like we're trapped at home, we feel trapped even though you're not trapped. And so first is the mental shift. And then the second thing is to think about a routine that actually brings you joy every day. And so I'm not in my pajamas y'all and I got on a nice lip. OK. See Justin, I got a nice berry lip today and I changed my glasses every day, I put on earrings - I don't take my twists out because nobody has time for that. But I do things that bring me joy in my environment. So in my office right now, if you were here with me, I'm going to show you, I'm going to get on screen for a second. So y'all know I'm recovering from having COVID and so I have my vaporizers and the aromatherapy machine that I've always had. And so I have it with eucalyptus, it's bringing in good smells. I have good snacks surrounding me. And Alexa tells me what to do. So now routine. So when I wake up in the morning, I keep a routine that's a little bit later than when I used to leave the office. I have my time to myself. I'm a mom. So for all my parents and caregivers who are listening right now, getting up a little bit earlier right now for you should be your gift of the day and have that time for yourself to have your coffee, to have your tea, to sit with your reading, to do your gratitude journal, to sit in silence, to watch ratchet TV, whatever it is you want to do.

Justin: Tiger King.

Kishshana: Go ahead.

Justin: I said, Tiger King!

Kishshana: I mean, first of all, if you watch Tiger King the workday is not going to begin Justin, OK, that's terrible advice, that's for the night time and then make sure that you are not like harpooning into your workday, that you are taking your time to come into your workday. So that's setting that intention. Then switch into work mode. So if you looked at my calendar, if we screen shared right now, you would see that I have time blocks throughout the week. I've always had them. They're color-coded, I love color. Color helps to guide my thinking. And so however you visually learn or you learn from an auditory perspective. Set up your day that way. So if you're a visual learner, your calendar should reflect by type the work that you have to do. It does a couple of things to your brain. One, it shows you the types of activities you have to do all week so you'll know if you do it way too much Zoom and not enough working time so that you can start to have some conversations with team members about moving some things around. Two, it gives you a hard break in your day if you think about the bookends personal-personal, work in the middle. But when you color-code your work, it gives you that that start and that stop visually. If you're an auditory learner, then I like to add in technology. So on your phone, if you have Alexa, if you have Siri, if you have any kind of little technology, it can be your beeping watch. Set it ahead of time to tell you when to do things because that gets you moving externally. So get up and go for a walk. Get up and stretch. Time to do chair yoga. Get up and make sure you have lunch. Did you eat yet? Like mine, well it's past 2 o'clock, so mine won't say now, but it did an hour ago. Kishshana, did you remember to eat today? It sounds really aggressive and I'm the one that put it in like why is it so aggressive. But I say those things y'all because honestly, we need those reminders and those markers because we don't have those at-work markers to have us move on to the next thing. And our children don't have that period marker. My daughter's school gives music at the end of every period. And so she doesn't have that marker to change time. So what I've been doing with her is she listens to music while she works and we have a playlist and it changes the soundtrack. And so trying to emulate and to mimic things that happened that triggered you to move in your work environment and then see how you feel at the end of day, last thing, and then I'll stop for a second to see if there's any questions on that. When I stopped working for the day, I used to stop, Justin listen, let me tell you a secret. I used to stop working when I was so exhausted that I couldn't keep my eyes open and I know you had this experience where our keyboard on our forehead, that print, particularly when you start a business. So now I have an actual stop in my day. And if I want to do something that is work-related, it's around reading, it's around things that are not on the screen, it's around stuff that kind of brings me down, I have my nighttime pull-down routine. Creating routine and structure, even for those of us who are free spirits, allows you to feel like you have control over your environment and your work and the way in which you work, particularly because the time that we're gonna be working from home in such large numbers is indefinite for right now. Okay. What do you think about what I said? I know I gave you a mouthful, earful, and an eyeful.

Justin: Well, first, I'll tell you what your fans are saying, because it's just I mean, you know, I want to take your energy and just like, I wish we had, like holograms of you, like on our desks, as we're getting through the day, we just, you know, we just look at you and like, okay, I can get through this. I can get this. Your energy. Yeah, your energy is amazing. You know, someone said your energy is just a dreamy bomb right now. Thank you. So I think that part of today's live Q&A is just the energy that you're expressing, I think is going to help get people, you know, through this day, through this week. But in terms of, you know, the concepts you shared, I couldn't agree more. I mean, it's hard. I mean, you know, it's, I feel way more productive working from home. I mean, we have an office and I normally work in an office. So working from home, you know, is not something that I would normally do or have done. But I've noticed, I mean, I save two hours on a commute. So a lot more productive, a lot more time. But my biggest kind of challenge has been being able to separate and being able to turn off work. Right. So it's like after the kids go down, I have four kids. So after the kids go down, it's just like so easy to walk right back over to my desk and, you know, jump back in and just go for it. So I like adding more structure, putting that on your calendar and really, you know, using that tech to get through the day. Something I did, I've only done it once in the three weeks that I've been... So this is our third week going on, working from home, and something I did on Friday was I just was like, you know, it was a stressful day and was just like, I got to change up my environment. So I took my dog and I went on a walk and it was like a 30-minute walk. And it was just, you know, being outside, in the sun, it was just it was very refreshing. So changing up the environment, it's very easy to get stuck at your desk and eat at your desk and, you know, do everything at your desk. But being able to remove yourself from the environment, get into a bigger space, open space, you know, should help just with the creativity and just getting through kind of the last few hours of the day as well.

Kishshana: Totally. And one of the things that I did for my phone. So those of you have, who use Google for your calendar. I'm not sure how Microsoft Outlook works yet. I'll figure that out. So if you put in the plus sign from your phone and want to start a new task, a reminder and activity, it gives you an activity choice now. So I pick walking four to five times a week and it uses your calendar appointments, asks you how many minutes? I can put thirty minutes and it uses your calendar appointments and then inserts where you should go for a walk and then it checks in with you and goes "Did you do your walk today?" and I was like "Yes" and I went and did my walk because I want my check. I wanted to get outside with the dog. And, did you know, random fact here in New York and I think I've seen this report a couple of times over, at least in the US, that the animal shelters are like "uhh so we don't have animals right now" like because people were coming in and adopting in droves because work-from-home and they're just like, you know, needing that comfort and, you know, animals bring so much comfort and have healing powers. You know, lots of us would say to families. And so I this was the random slide fact.

Justin: So get a dog, get a dog work from home.

Kishshana: So get a dog. Work from home... the end!

Justin: OK. So another question here. Our event isn't until November, but we need to. I'm sorry. Not that one but I'm actually going to come back to that one. Something popped up above it. Where did it go? Oh, here we go. How transparent should we be about where our organization stands if we've lost X amount of money or had to make tough decisions with staffing and programming?

Kishshana: Stephanie, to who? I'll do a couple. So your Board should be completely clued in. This is a part of their fiduciary responsibility to understand where the organization is and to work with the Chief Executive and his or her team to be able to troubleshoot, to understand how to navigate the financial situation. So the Board should be completely clued in, the executive team should be completely clued in, particularly because these are the verticals that they are managing. Each of you are managing and you are best, should be, best situated to be able to make recommendations for where we need to make some - to have some movements and some shifts, some cuts, etc., some temporary hold for their particular vertical. Transparency to me should be in every organizational value, and ethos. It does not exist, and I understand that. So that question a little loaded because it depends on how the leader is typically being transparent with information and how decisions are made within the organization. So if you already work within an organization or charity or your leadership sort of keeps the dark until decisions are made and then you get an e-mail or a memo or things just start to occur, the probability that this time they're going to be really transparent about your financial situation is really low. And so I'd want you to recalibrate your expectation to that. But if you're in an organization where you as a leader have a choice. What I would do is work with your finance team, work with your finance lead, work with your Comms or whoever does your visuals and graphics to create simple, easy to understand infographic style, how to's that you can then use as a voiceover on an all staff call to walk your team through the state of the state. And to upvote suggestions for those of us who like to process over time, to have an opportunity for people to come back to the conversation. For those folks, we need to verbally process have an opportunity and a vehicle for that to come up with creative solutions for what the way forward would look like. But have that strategy forward, already sort of like outline. I think if you're in an organization and you are a leader that has the ability to be able to offer that type of transparency to your team, do it because you will find that folks will ride the river with you if they understand what kind of raft they're in, where you find folks jumping out, even when the raft is secure, is when they can't see.

Justin: Oh, man, I totally agree with that. A couple points from my perspective, first to the team, how transparent should you be with the team? Weekly check-ins on how this is impacting business, understanding, you know, these are decisions we have to make by these times. If things continue or if our fund dips below, you know, X, Y and Z, I think that you know, executives are going to carry the weight of, you know, like, well, what is this, like how much money is in the bank account? But in terms of, you know, how quickly things are evolving and changing, I think one of the best ways is a Monday morning all-hands team meeting just to talk about COVID-19 and how it's impacting your nonprofit. And you know, what activities and plans are being taken to address, you know, the changing environment. I think that's something every nonprofit should be doing on a weekly basis. To donors, I mean, so this is my perspective and every donor is different, not every donor is the same. Right. So what I want to be hearing now from the organizations that I support is, hey, listen, this is the reality of how COVID-19 is impacting us, right? Like, I know that 2020 is going to be a year where impact is just not going to be as probably great as 2019. 2020 is gonna be a year where everything's gonna be off, everything's gonna be down most likely and I understand that as a donor. So I'm not looking for more, you know, more people helped and so forth. I'm going back to you know Kishshana what you said earlier is how are organizations taking care of their teams? How are organizations going to be like, hey, listen, like we're gonna be shoulder to shoulder. We don't want to do any sort of mass layoffs, we want to ride this storm, we want to weather this storm. And so as a donor, can you step up and ensure that we can keep our team intact? Because 2021 or 2022, when this thing turns around, we're going heads down and we're going to grow this thing, we're gonna scale our impact. But if we have to let people go today, you know, we have to rebuild the team tomorrow. So I think and again like every donor is different. You know, some donors, only can see that like impact as like the top line kind of result. And that's where you gonna have to get to know your donors, but it's communicating to the donors that will get it that, hey, we're setting up a COVID-19 emergency fund and this is for our team. This is to ensure that we have the proper response if someone gets sick, someone needs to go on leave. And I know there's a lot of really great resources that the government is providing as a result, the policies have passed recently. But as a team, I think there's an opportunity to raise an emergency fund for your nonprofit as it relates to headcount, as it relates to healthcare and so forth. So I think transparency, the organizations that are the most transparent with their team, with their donors, with their Board, are the organizations that'll weather the storm the best in 2020.

Kishshana: And one thing about the messaging, because there's a question about messaging. I want to say this really quickly. Try not to be what my dad would say penny wise and pound foolish. And what I mean by that is we are being inundated with information, information even on this call. Information, information, information. People want the information. But there's a point in which in your own mind, you naturally hit a wall where you stop synthesizing what you're taking in and it just becomes all noise. And so you want to make this simple for your donors and your teams, not because they don't have the sophistication to understand once, but because we already being bombarded 24 hours a day, every waking minute that we choose to engage with information and messaging. So when I talk about penny wise and pound foolish, what I mean is if your organization has the talent already in house to be able to create the graphics, to be able to create the simplified vision, the dashboard, the world map, you know thinking tech terms. Tech has a tech road map, think of the road map of where things could look like for your organization. Give folks a visual picture if you have the talent in-house. If you don't have the talent in-house, this is an opportunity for our digital economy to really be leveraged by your organization with freelancers, designers, etc who can help your organization very quickly turn around that information and make it palatable and make it digestible for all of your stakeholders. So I just want to name that because I think that we kind of forget that and we're like we don't know how to do that. Oh, my gosh. There are folks who are just like, hello, I'm talented, please, hire me, so that you can get that little thing done. And that could go a long way in helping to communicate your messaging for folks who want to engage.

Justin: That's great. Totally agree, thank you for that. OK. From Sarah. Our event isn't until November, but we need to have sponsors secured by summer. And we're worried we won't be able to secure them due to the hurt economy. Any suggestions on how to tackle this?

Kishshana: So it's been a 50/50 proposition for me. So I'm planning an event that's in July, end of July, and we were on a heavy clip with sponsors coming in. And 50% of them are like, I'm still in. If you move the date, I'm still in. If you have it, I'm still in. And the other 50% are like can you come back to us on April 16th? I mean, so what it took was for me to take a step back and think, what are the scenarios because there are some hard costs. What are the unintended costs that I can see, leave some room for the things you can't see and then have a conversation. Because as we know, we should not just be going out to folks with our deck and our shiny faces going, be a goal, be a platinum, be a silver. No, no. Those days have long since left us. As it relates to events and sponsorship because we want our sponsors to be partners. And the event is an episodic moment. What you want is for them to be engaged with your organization. So you really should be focusing on what is the overall engagement strategy that you might have to shift for the next 18 months in your organization. And then the folks who took a bite. Bring them into that conversation and work that through. These are folks on the other end of the line, people on the other end of the line who want your organizations to succeed and for their companies. They also want their company to succeed. And so really shifting that conversation and asking the question and being open to how it iterates a little differently, I'll give you a very specific example. A colleague of mine had to lead a major event through the real estate bottom out in 2008. And that year, she had to get very creative with sponsors. One of the examples she gives is that she said that she had for her top tier that typically sponsor used to, you know, kind of angle for she ended up having two companies share that top tier that year with a commitment that in following years they each would take on different levels they would kind of come in. So she got them to commit across multiple years because she was able to work with them and make that concession. They would share that top tier and the benefit that came with that for that year. So I want you all to be thinking about your events, not in the short view, because for me right now y'all I'm thinking about, oh my gosh, how much money am I going to lose, the contracts that I have to fulfill, the sponsors who already gave us checks, the registration. My mind is everywhere. Also, you have to be thinking about what happens in two years at this event, in three years with this event and the relationships that are necessary to facilitate even making that possible. So try not to think about the short term view and bring your partners, potential partners into the conversation.

Justin: That's, that's very wise. I was just looking actually at data right before this, in terms of what the market is doing. And, you know, the market is a good indicator of just how businesses are performing during this time and you know, they're projecting that the GDP will be down by 8% at the end of Q2, which is worse than the Great Recession and it's closer to like post-World War 2 kind of economy metrics. So I think that right now planning, you know, for like big-ticket sponsors or big corporate gifts is probably somewhat of a losing strategy. And I hope I'm wrong. I 100% hope I'm wrong because, you know, the economy could bounce back in Q3 and be back to how it was humming it in Q4 of 2019. But a lot of economists are saying that's not the case and that, you know, the economy is going to shrink in 2020 and the economy shrinking means corporations, foundations whose basically portfolios are in the markets, doesn't make financial sense to pull out of at this point because they've lost such a big percentage of their earnings. So I would say that also start thinking of creative new ways to replace, you know, that $50,000 sponsorship. And there's lots of ways we've seen our customers be successful with this, different types of virtual events they've hosted, social fundraising, peer-to-peer fundraising. These are all channels that typically don't see a decline in a recession sort of economics. And so I think that's something to also consider, is if you have an event in November, model out worst-case scenario, if we can't lock down sponsors, what's our backup plan? How do we create a backup plan for that? Because that could be a reality that a lot of organizations who are event heavy on revenue like this could impact, you know, although we might be able to all convene and go to galas again in Q3 and Q4, the bottom lines of businesses are being hit pretty hard right now. And they may not recover in time to be able to stroke those large checks. So I would say to also be thinking of a backup plan as it relates to that sort of fundraising strategy. Felt like that was kind of a downer, but you know, I think as like fundraisers and as nonprofit executives, we have to be thinking about the shift that's happening, the change that is happening, and the demographic of donors that may or may not be able to give in 2020 is as a result. During this time, do you have thoughts on a more meaningful way to say thank you to those supporting our organization, a traditional letter or call seems inadequate.

Kishshana: I mean, so here's the thing y'all. Let us leverage the technology that lots of people are actually fascinated with, we think about like this fact that like, for example, we're on Zoom, WebX, Sky Stream, YardStream. I'm not going to keep going, they're not paying me, OK? I can just keep going on all of the different technologies that are available right now. And it tickles me so bad that when I was thinking about some of my clients who hadn't had an opportunity to engage in this way, that they're like fascinated and like loving it. So leverage the tools that are out there. Leverage your Tik Toks, do fun donor thank you challenges. Leverage the video drop-ins where you can actually send video notes from home saying "thank you from home" to your donors. I think the mail still works. And so if you are set up to be able to do a little thank you card. Although you're like "please leave this on top of your mail for the next seven days so that all the things can go away or spray with Lysol!" But engage, be cheeky, be happy about stuff. You know, kind of take the little satire approach to engaging with donors, we need a little levity. And so really thinking about ways that'll bring your donors joy is really critical. There are lots of companies actually now, there's companies like Lotto Love, there is Sugarwish, there is Preposterous. There's a bunch of companies whose sole function is in gifting and if it's in your organizational budget for your top-tier donors, for your donors that might be on a second shut-in list, for donors whose families you know were immediately affected. However, you all navigate your engagement strategy going really back to your stewardship activities. Then think about how to leverage technology to be able to connect with them during this time. But I'm definitely down for a donor challenge as a thank you. I'm down for video drop in. If I received any of that stuff as a donor I'd be like super excited to engage during this time because we're home doing that.

Justin: I love that. And there's another idea, could be, there's a few different tools out there for this, one specific, there's like a free version of it called Vidyard. We use it in our sales but you can easily use this to also record a video and send to a donor, very easily like through your laptop or desktop. And you know, you could do screen shares maybe it's like reviewing your annual report or reviewing a recent blog or story of something that your organization has accomplished or how you're responding to COVID-19, a message from the executive director to the stakeholders. I think like now, more than ever, people are craving personal interaction and a video is a great way. I think will be, you know, could be better received than a phone call and so forth, because we want to see people. It works well on the sales side. I think it could also work very well on cultivating donors and thanking them for their support. But I also would say never underestimate the power of a phone call because, you know, like the emails that donors get, they're typically templated and they could see that, they understand trying to be efficient. A phone call is not a template. A phone call is very personal. And so I would say do not underestimate the power of that one to one conversation. I think it is very powerful and gives the donor the opportunity to ask questions.

Kishshana: Absolutely. I would be super excited to get a phone call right now, and I'm super excited to make phone calls right now. So I think that's really important.

Justin: All right, so a question from Lisa, we are able to send out our spring appeal. How do we not interfere with this campaign while still doing other asks because of the immediate situation? We are domestic violence, shelter and have unforeseen needs, financial needs through social media, Constant Contact, etc.

Kishshana: Yeah. So this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, right? I think April is. Yes. So a couple of things. One, even if your campaign is at a mail house right now, pick up the phone and press hold on that delivery, because you are not acknowledging what is happening in our world right now in your immediate messaging and tying that in. It is going to fall as flat as a basketball with no air in it, friends, to your donors, no matter how critical your mission is. All of the months. Women's Month went out the window, Domestic Violence Month we're going to have to bring to light that everybody is not safe being at home. And so your messaging has got to reflect the acknowledgment that things are different right now. And so put pause on that thing if you can. And then change up that messaging a little bit and let your donors know. And we have to kind of pause things up. So we've increased what we need to do right now, like let them know, bring them into that. But please do not send it out as this business as usual because of the month, because that is going to make people look at you like this y'all. And we don't want that. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, to Justin's earlier point, fundraising does not slow down during this time. Organizations that have been historically successful during any kind of rapid shift in our economy, or because they were laser-focused, they were clear. They demonstrated how they could connect their mission to what was happening. And they kept their donors in the loop on messaging. And so making sure that as you look at the next 6 to 9 months that you're looking at what that roadmap looks like, what the messaging looks like over that course of time. And it is reflective of how things are shifting and moving. So Justin you just pointed out the economy. That's an excellent one. How is that going to affect organizations that are focused on domestic violence, that are focused on the protection of folks that are in domestic situations, etc., as it relates to things that are the economy, as it relates to the election, as relates to the summertime, food, education, etc.. So I just wanted to kind of give some color to that.

Justin: That's great. No, thank you. And I'm going to move on to a few more questions. We've got about five minutes left and so I'm want to try and get through a few more that I think are going to be really helpful for the community. So this is a two-part question, I'll read both questions. We were just starting our endowment campaign and have a deadline that we need to get commitments by June 2021 to qualify for a one-to-one match. How do we adjust our strategy? And then the second part. We need to hire a Development Officer, should we move forward with that now or put it on pause?

Kishshana: Awesome question. So one, yes, you should hire a development person now. You need somebody who has some finesse and whose sole life is going to be focused on making sure that this campaign is handled with a very sophisticated touch. That's the first thing. The second thing is go to your one-to-one match. Your campaign volunteer chair should be having a conversation with your board chair or your Chief Executive and that one-to-one match on the possibility of needing to move out that deadline because folks would be completely myopic if they were not thinking about the fact that things are shifting and getting some agreement around that. Then for the folks who are identified as early leadership givers in this campaign, there's going to have to be that conversation. They're going to have to be brought in. They're going to be brought into the sausage factory a little bit earlier because you have to enlist people and enroll people into what is shifting and changing in your organization. So I just wanted to answer those two quickly.

Justin: That's great. I agree. Move forward if budget allows. If you feel like you're gonna have to, you know, fire the individual in three months, I would maybe push pause. But if you have sufficient runway, adequate resources, now more than ever, you need a great development team and a leader leading that team. So I think it's critical to getting through this season, so definitely agree with that. And yeah, I agree talking with that matched donor and saying, "hey, listen, everything changed in the last three weeks. We don't know where the economy's going to be at. We don't know if we can, you know, achieve this at stage in the game or is there any flexibility. And if there is flexibility, you know, I think that the opportunity still of keeping that timeline, give yourself a buffer if you miss. Right. Like what that timeline is for this matching donor doesn't have to be the public-facing timeline so that you do have some buffer worked in, in case that you miss or the economy doesn't recover as quickly as people are hoping. That's my two cents on that. What would be a good suggestion on how to get face to face time with potential donor since we have to practice social distancing or we are in a city that basically mandates social distancing?

Kishshana: So I would say to communicate with potential donors and with donors that we want to be able to get face to face at home. And so to think creatively about, you know, wordplay about any types of slogans like, not things that a corny y'all and catchy necessarily, but things that tie in the work you're doing to what you want to achieve so that it's easy to remember and for donors to do and to say we'd love to be able to talk with you face to face. And so here's the way we're doing it. And schedule the time for them to be able to connect with you electronically. For donors who don't have the technology, you're going to have to still rely on, and Justin said this, the good old telephone. It works and folks are happy to talk. Now that they're home people really actually do want to talk, which is interesting. And so being able to really connect, so you're not going to be able to get that face to face stuff right now and you want to be able to show that you are paying attention to the times and not avoiding what is inevitable for many months, which is that we're not going to be able to be together in community for some time.

Justin: Absolutely. And, you know, another thing I'd throw out there, something that I think a lot of people have a wrong perception of texting. I think is great, especially for times like this. Everyone uses text messages regardless of age. Right. It's not just like a millennial thing. So I would say, you know, if you have that sort of channel already corresponding with donors via text message that are conversational, can be another great way to keep donors engaged and to feel connected. Alright, so probably one of our last questions for today, we're definitely going to have you back. And because, I mean, it's been a lot of fun. And so thank you again for joining us! So we have a lot of older donors. How do we recruit new, younger donors in this time of crisis?

Kishshana: So you've got to meet younger donors where they're hanging out online. And so this is a thing where understanding your audience is supercritical. I think we make a lot of sort of like broad-brush assumptions about where people actually hang out. So for your mission area, where do people get their information and then what type of information they're getting and at what clip and you need to hang out there as well because that's going to be super important. So are you the type of organization, if you're policy-based you should be hanging out on Twitter, for example. There's tons of threads, I mean, a lot of rabbit hole to go into. If your organization is focused on environment, where do you hang out? If you're focused on animals, where do folks hang out? If they get to where people are hanging out and hanging out right now so that you can start to make sure your messaging is showing up where they are so that you can engage in more conversation. And if you're thinking about the younger donor and I'm using the broadest brush I can right now. Younger donors want to be engaged by rolling their hands up and getting involved in it, too. They want the activity before the money. And so what is the activity that people can do at home? Is it a challenge they can do with their families? Is it a challenge they can get their friends to do on telephone? Is there a challenge that they can do that gets people working toward a thing that they can sign on for that then has an action that then follows with money? So really thinking about how to engage across multi-levels, particularly for younger donors, is going to be really critical.

Justin: Absolutely. You said it very well. Nothing of value to add because you said some of the things I would have said anyway. So no reason to throw out more information since you've already so brilliantly covered it. Kishshana, thank you so much. This has been recorded, we're going to share it. So everyone that's listening, there's been some questions. Can we get copies? So yes, absolutely. We will have this up online in I think a few days and we'll definitely send it out to everyone that registered. I also wanted to give a quick preview of a live Q&A that's happening next week for everyone that's here. So our friend and CEO of CauseMic, which is a consulting agency based in Washington or Washington or Oregon, I forget, one of the two states, not that important, anyways they did a brilliant breakdown of the CARES Act. This was legislation that President Trump just signed into law, which basically provides relief to not just small businesses, but nonprofits in the form of loans and grants. It was like a 900-page bill, a ton of information. They did a brilliant job breaking it down to help nonprofits know how to apply, where to apply and what they're eligible for. So next week, we're going to walk through that breakdown so that people can be aware of the resources that are gonna be available for this sort of disaster relief funding that the government has put together. So with that, I will say thank you one more time. It has been an absolute pleasure. I'm excited to definitely continue our conversation and to bring you on more. So thank you for your time.

Kishshana: Connect with me on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook @Funddiva. I'm happy to keep the conversation going. Justin, thank you so much for having me on today. This was such a joy and super excited to continue the conversation. What you were doing is phenomenal. And this information you're able to provide real-time for our Funraise community is fantastic.

Justin: Well, thank you so much. And thank you for being part of it. We look forward to keeping the information coming. Have a wonderful week.

Kishshana: Bye, y'all!

Thanks for listening to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit. This podcast is brought to you by your friends at Funraise. Nonprofit fundraising software, built by nonprofit people. If you'd like to continue the conversation, find me on LinkedIn or text me at 562-242-8160. And don't forget to get your next episode the second it hits the internet. Go to and sign up for email notifications today. See you next time!