I got knocked off my rocker by this election cycle. Gobsmacked. The wind was kicked out of me so much so that I wondered whether my world would come crashing to a halt in that very moment.

So far… it has not.

I’m not going to talk politics in this post or on my blog. But I am going to talk about the critical importance of communications in times of crisis. Or, if that’s too dramatic a word—I don’t want to alienate anyone here—how about in times of enormous ground-shifting change or transition? That seems more appropriate.

There are two activities that every organization must never stop doing during times of big national shake-ups: communicate and fundraise.

Reach out and say hello, we’re here, we understand

When major world events happen–a tragedy like 9/11, a big crash in the stock market, a controversial election–everyone is affected. People immediately start to look for explanations or information to guide them and to help make sense of everything. They immediately need to know they are not alone in their efforts to process and understand these new developments.

Organizations have an essential role to play in this discourse. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your people and reassure them that you are still there, doing your work, and that you still need them.

It’s easy to get caught up in your own reactions to major events. But your role as an organization that in one shape or another, serves others, must get in service to the people who make your organization possible.

There are no right answers in these times. But there is a need for a sense of connection and stability. And the need is immediate. Don’t wait to craft the absolutely perfect message; get your first communications out to your supporters right away, even if it’s just a short message to say that you are here and that your work continues, and that you are thankful for their ongoing support.

In our dependence on the support of our donors to keep our organizations thriving, we can overlook how much our donors actually also depend on us.

You may not recognize that even your largest donors and supporters will feel the need to connect to the organizations they believe in and that are a part of the foundation of their own lives. In times of chaos, people will look to maintain their faith that the institutions they support are solid and that not everything they may take for granted is changing all at once. Don’t let them feel neglected and lost.

I read somewhere that 90% of winning is just showing up. Show up.

Your need for support doesn’t end; don’t stop asking for it

There is a tendency to want to shy away from asking for money when people are in pain or experiencing a high level of anxiety. Do the opposite. Your organization needs support now maybe more than ever and your people need to believe their contributions matter. Don’t stop asking.

Some messaging guidelines:

  • We’re all in this together and we need one another

Emphasize the idea of alliance and that working together makes everyone stronger.

  • You can trust us

Remember, people’s worlds were just shaken, reassure them that your organization will not be.

  • Reinforce your core

This is not the time to introduce brand new initiatives; show your long-term stability in doing what you do well and reaffirm your commitment to continuing to doing so.

  • Show your fiscal responsibility

When the world is shaking, the last thing you want to do is cast doubt on your organizational finances. Talk about how funds raised are used and the positive impact they make. Assure donors that their gifts are used in the way they were intended and that matters.

  • Value your donors

Stewardship, acknowledgement, and expressions of gratitude are always an essential part of fundraising, but even more so when people feel lost. Do this now more than ever.

Don’t go silent; do just the opposite

Getting through hard times, and even thriving, is an essential trait of being a citizen of this young and scrappy country. We will get through it. I believe that. But we need to be strong and loud and band together.

Nonprofit organizations are woven into the fabric of this great nation as much as government institutions. Their influence is tremendous. Their mission in bringing people together to make the world a better place is profound. They have power and purpose and a voice. Use them all wisely, boldly, and loudly. Do this always, but especially now.

I got knocked off my rocker by this election cycle. Gobsmacked. The wind was kicked out of me so much so that I wondered whether my world would come crashing to a halt in that very moment. So far… it has not. I’m not going to talk politics in this post or on my blog. But I am going to talk about the critical importance of communications in times of crisis. Or, if that’s too dramatic a word—I don’t want to alienate anyone here—how about in times of enormous ground-shifting change or transition? That seems more appropriate. There are two activities that every organization must never stop doing during times of big national shake-ups: communicate and fundraise. Reach out and say hello, we’re here, we understand When major world events happen–a tragedy like 9/11, a big crash in the stock market, a controversial election–everyone is affected. People immediately start to look for explanations or information to guide them and to help make sense of everything. They immediately need to know they are not alone in their efforts to process and understand these new developments. Organizations have an essential role to play in this discourse. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with your people and reassure them that you are still there, doing your work, and that you still need them. It’s easy to get caught up in your own reactions to major events. But your role as an organization that in one shape or another, serves others, must get in service to the people who make your organization possible. There are no right answers in these times. But there is a need for a sense of connection and stability. And the need is immediate. Don’t wait to craft the absolutely perfect message; get your first communications out to your supporters right away, even if it’s just a short message to say that you are here and that your work continues, and that you are thankful for their ongoing support. In our dependence on the support of our donors to keep our organizations thriving, we can overlook how much our donors actually also depend on us. You may not recognize that even your largest donors and supporters will feel the need to connect to the organizations they believe in and that are a part of the foundation of their own lives. In times of chaos, people will look to maintain their faith that the institutions they support are solid and that not everything they may take for granted is changing all at once. Don’t let them feel neglected and lost. I read somewhere that 90% of winning is just showing up. Show up. Your need for support doesn’t end; don’t stop asking for it There is a tendency to want to shy away from asking for money when people are in pain or experiencing a high level of anxiety. Do the opposite. Your organization needs support now maybe more than ever and your people need to believe their contributions matter. Don’t stop asking. Some messaging guidelines:   We’re all in this together and we need one another Emphasize the idea of alliance and that working together makes everyone stronger. You can trust us Remember, people’s worlds were just shaken, reassure them that your organization will not be. Reinforce your core This is not the time to introduce brand new initiatives; show your long-term stability in doing what you do well and reaffirm your commitment to continuing to doing so. Show your fiscal responsibility When the world is shaking, the last thing you want to do is cast doubt on your organizational finances. Talk about how funds raised are used and the positive impact they make. Assure donors that their gifts are used in the way they were intended and that matters. Value your donors Stewardship, acknowledgement, and expressions of gratitude are always an essential part of fundraising, but even more so when people feel lost. Do this now more than ever. Don’t go silent; do just the opposite Getting through hard times, and even thriving, is an essential trait of being a citizen of this young and scrappy country. We will get through it. I believe that. But we need to be strong and loud and band together. Nonprofit organizations are woven into the fabric of this great nation as much as government institutions. Their influence is tremendous. Their mission in bringing people together to make the world a better place is profound. They have power and purpose and a voice. Use them all wisely, boldly, and loudly. Do this always, but especially now.