Adjusting to the Current Challenges
Fundraising efforts for the causes we hold dear came to a temporary standstill when Covid-19 emerged, amid our efforts to stay home and quarantine. The end of social gatherings as we knew them occurred on March 12th, as New York declared a state of emergency. As the world scrambled to regain its footing, nonprofits found the need to make immediate adjustments in their communication and how they connect to their supporters and donors, to maintain their community support and the revenue streams that fund their mission.
When Creativity Comes In
One example is The Alzheimer’s Organization, a highly reputed National Nonprofit with global reach, whose list of corporate sponsors and individual donors reads like a who’s who of the Fortune 500 and tech and pharmaceutical billionaires. The organization has outposts in most U.S. cities, and in Santa Monica, a community of supporters decided to suit up, get busy, and circumvent all obstacles the Coronavirus posed to their 2020 fundraising goals by coming up with a brilliant idea: They decided to move the annual walk, a key fundraising event, online. The result is the stuff of pep talks and motivational speeches that is creatively bringing the Santa Monica community together in its shared goal to see an end to the incurable disease, which claims close to one hundred and thirty thousand lives annually, and whose number of diagnosed cases is projected to double by 2060. For loved ones, family members, and friends of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease, the personal commitment to raise funds in support of research to cure this devastating cognitive illness, is not difficult to understand. But for businesses, the call to gather employee teams and sign up to walk together remotely offers unique benefits just as powerful to work team morale.
More than ever, Americans (even those living abroad) are feeling isolated, disconnected, and at a loss for how to engage in familiar and meaningful ways with others, or maintain their favorite past times that have been disrupted by an unforgiving virus. Amid a collective sense of loss and occasional helplessness, proactive businesses have found a way to light the path to brighter days ahead. Enter the new face of philanthropy, where the community fundraiser you attend every year can be seen just a click away from your computer or smartphone. The Santa Monica Walk to End Alzheimer’s is coming this October 25th to a street, park, treadmill, peloton, back yard, living room, or even computer of your choosing! All courtesy of the quick-thinking Santa Monica Alzheimer’s Organization. They found a way to pivot while staying aligned with their organizational objectives of serving their local West L.A. Alzheimer’s-affected community of patients and caregivers while thinking outside of the box to make this year’s walk bigger and more inclusive than ever.
‘But I already support my preferred causes through donations,’ you might be thinking. ‘Why participate in a walk by myself?’ And the beauty is, because this year, we will all be in it together. Maybe not side by side, but across the miles and thanks to technology and bandwidth, we can walk together, to bring an end to an unrelenting disease that takes too many lives to count.
It may not be enough to say that Bill Gates has done it. AARP, United Health, Quest Diagnostics, and a host of Silicon Valley companies have, too. They’ve all put their money and the full weight of their industries’ gravitas behind the Alzheimer’s Organization’s mission to assist patients, caregivers, researchers, and scientists working tirelessly to find a cure. And now it’s your turn. But don’t be fooled by invitation; this year’s Santa Monica walk isn’t simply an opportunity to sign up and make an online contribution. Even though you can participate in this year’s walk from the comfort of your NordicTrack or stair climber, or while FaceTiming with your team of friends and colleagues (how about a google hangout walk around the block with your teammates to raise funds?), this year’s walk really IS a uniquely two-way street.
CEO’s and Executives of Fortune 500’s have known for years what some smaller businesses are learning as they rapidly adjust to engaging their employees remotely in the digital realm, to practice this team-building experience, achieving fundraising goals this year for the first time “alone, together.”
The Silver Lining
There is the real science behind what happens for corporate teams and individuals when they participate in this year’s precedent-setting walk. Employees at Silicon Valley businesses observed long ago that signing a team up to raise funds by walking led to their employees feeling they were a part of a bigger effort, causing them to engage in friendly competition with other companies through fun weekly challenges. (Imagine the global impact of this, when your company team can walk ANYWHERE, and log and share its participation ONLINE!) Empowering employees to engage proactively with causes that matter to or impact them, boosts office morale, increases networking, improves inter-office relationships, and catalyzes fundraising idea sharing, opening channels of communication used toward a common goal. Adaptability separates the leaders from the pack, and deftly adjusting your team to the new virtual face of fundraising and team building, promotes professional camaraderie and connectedness between teammates and employees, to be better able to manage different challenges down the road; and that’s just good business.
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