How Do You Spell Relief? Reframing Your Mission

Jenny Vance
Written by :

Jenny Vance

Categories: Fundraising

How are things going for you this week? Are you getting into the groove of staying at home? Getting lots of work done, or barely hanging on?

Things are great at Swell. We held a fantastic webinar on online fundraising this week. We’re diving in to help our clients pivot and get new clients launched through our Help Desk. Finally, we’re planning a demo of our newest feature (Check out this sneak peak!)

Event23232 (1)-1


On a personal level, I’m having more mixed results.

I think Alexa is going to throw something at me if I ask her what day it is one more time! But also, this has given me a lot more time to think and forced me to be a little more creative in how I do what I do. I imagine the same is probably true for you.

Most of the time, creativity is good. Sometimes, not so much.

Like many of my generation, I spent a lot of time as a latchkey kid. While Mom worked, I took care of my sister who was always hungry after school (but never at dinner time). That led to scrounging up some pretty unorthodox food combinations.

Sometimes they worked great. Who knew carrots and peanut butter are really good together? Sometimes, the results were less than stellar.

When rummaging in my own grown up pantry, I find I usually spend considerably less time combining weird foods and more time planning menus so I know what to eat and when.

That is until COVID-19. Maybe it’s all the time alone, but some of that latchkey kid creativity has begun to show itself.


What Happened

I forgot to plan lunch so I opened up the fridge and found leftover French toast and a chicken finger. Chicken and waffles are great together, I reasoned.

I grabbed an orange as I waited for the chicken and toast to reheat in the oven.

Then I thought, well I should really add some more protein. That’s where things went terribly wrong….

Let’s just say, McGriddles™ work with sausage, egg, and cheese. But, French toast and American cheese, that is an unequivocal fail. If you’re tempted, don’t try it.

Seriously. You WILL regret it.


How My Blunder Can Help You

Here’s the thing with creativity. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t, but if you don’t let yourself play with an idea, you’ll never know if it works.

You may remember last week, I talked about “going around the block.” The post was all about turning your physical fundraising event into an online fundraiser.

What if we applied that same thought process to your organization’s role in the current world climate? Is there a way that your organization’s mission can be reframed as a relief effort?

At first glance your nonprofit might not have anything to do with helping small businesses continue to pay their employees or making sure people have enough to eat and medical care during this global health crisis. But what happens if we look at it through another lens?

We’ve talked to several organizations lately. Many are worried because they think their mission isn’t directly connected to COVID-19 relief so finding much needed funding will be especially difficult this year. That’s a logical fear, but what happens if we take a step back?

Instead of thinking, "There's no way we can raise the money we need this year," what if you asked yourself this question instead: What’s your COVID-19 story?

The truth is, we all have one. It just might take a little creativity to find it.

Obviously, you can't (and you shouldn't!) abandon your mission. Simply think about how what you do applies to the world we live in during and post COVID-19.

Here are a few examples:

Your nonprofit focuses on education by making sure students are equipped to go to college. Teachers and students are being called upon to teach and learn in unprecedented ways right now. How does what you do help with that?

Perhaps your nonprofit provides domestic violence support. People are home together. Some families love it, some are stressed by it, and some are unsafe because of it. Are abused (or neglected) children, women, or men safer at this time because of the services you provide?

Does your nonprofit provide grief support? Normally, we grieve in small numbers. Today, grief takes a new form. We’re all grieving in so many different ways and all at once. Do you provide resources that could help with that?

Of course, these are just a few examples. Your story is likely different, but you DO have one.

Once you know your COVID-19 story, reframe your messaging about what you do and how you do it. Get that messaging out there.

Everyone is struggling in some way right now, but givers still want to give. Educate us about how you help and then show us where to donate.


But That Won't Work for Me

If that sounds too simple to you, consider post-Katrina New Orleans. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina decimated much of the Gulf Coast region, including Orleans Parish in Louisiana.

You might expect that in the wake of the storm, only nonprofits that focused on rebuilding efforts were able to thrive in the New Orleans effort.

It’s a logical assumption, but it’s wrong....

In fact, not only did many nonprofits thrive immediately after the storm. New nonprofits formed and were sustained. That growth was still happening ten years later; even as the nation navigated its way through a recession.

New Orleans nonprofits continued to see growth during this time period while nonprofits in the rest of the nation struggled because they learned to reframe their stories to rebuild not only the area’s buildings, but the people, the culture, and the natural resources as well. They united to tell a story of togetherness.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s surely that we may need to be six feet or more apart physically, but we’re all connected. We’re all in this together.

So, again, what’s your organization’s COVID-19 story?

Just like givers need to give. Helpers need to help and that’s what we do at Swell. If you’re having trouble reframing what you do, reach out, We’d love to help. Please reach out.