When challenges come at you fast, be brave!
After the pandemic hit, it was no surprise that our clients’ traditional fundraising efforts took a hit. Yours probably did, too. You couldn’t host events. Or meet in person with donors. Face-to-Face fundraising stopped, as did Door-to-Door. Mail and digital became really the only viable options for fundraising and, lo and behold, in spite of unprecedented challenging times, annual donors understood the need and came through. Big time.
But then, just when we all thought the worst was over, a whole slew of unforeseen new issues began to hit hard — stalled supply chains brought on by mill closures, rising costs and recession fears, to name a few.
Well, you can’t really manage supply chains and recessions, but you can find ways to manage through them.
ST and our clients had weathered storms before — and I believed then, as I do now, that with the right mix of flexibility, action, sharing and trust, we, and the clients we support, would make it through – and not just survive, but thrive. And, fingers crossed, so far we have.
In fact, at ST, we call that mix of flexibility, action, sharing and trust our F.A.S.T. philosophy and it’s served us exceedingly well. No amount of strategy or tactics are worth much unless you’re prepared to be brave, take smart risks and implement them in a meaningful and effective way. Here’s a peek at how we learned to make things happen F.A.S.T. for our team and for our clients and how you can, too:
Become more flexible by investing heavily in your team.
The first thing ST did was recognize that we had to be more flexible, more nimble — to have a strategic plan in place, but also to respond to changes in the marketplace as quickly and competently as possible. That meant investing heavily in bolstering our capabilities with the people who could best help us navigate rough waters.
For instance, we doubled our production team to secure larger volumes of paper and envelopes many months in advance. We added project managers to help us deliver faster and smarter solutions for our clients. We grew our Strategic Solutions team, further enhancing our strategic, digital, data and overall innovation capabilities to better prepare us and our clients for the future. And we made inclusion, diversity, and equity a priority — because we all do better work when our teams are a reflection of the world as it truly is – better reflecting our clients and the donor community at large.
Take action by embracing innovation.
Sometimes taking action has meant taking chances by being more entrepreneurial and unconventional — relooking at best practices, being open to fresh approaches, testing them and learning important lessons. Innovating means never resting on our laurels. One innovation, for instance, that’s already starting to pay off for clients, is our JAM Collective initiative (Just About Monthlies), which we launched to help organizations retain and grow monthly donors. Another innovation, closer to home for ST-ers, has been the launch of a four-day work week pilot – because we fundamentally believe people work better when they live better. We also believe clients appreciate having a team committed to them and their agency and the 4-day work week is just one more benefit that keeps hard-working ST-ers wanting to continue working with us.
Share more. Trust more.
The “S.T”. in F.A.S.T. calls on us to be as transparent as possible — with our staff and with our clients, so that everyone always understands the mission, vision and values that drive us. For clients, this has also meant looking to us to help them break down their own silos, both organizationally and from a communication perspective, while finding new ways to help them tell their story more authentically to donors, to ultimately help them raise more money..
Which leads me to Trust — and the hope for more of it all around. After all, with more flexible and capable teams, smarter, more innovative ways of helping non-profits raise money, as well as more transparency, clarity and straightforwardness in how we and our clients communicate, comes a lot more trust — in each other, in our teams and from the clients and donors we’re working so hard to build long-lasting relationships with.
At ST, we’re focused on constant improvement – and innovation is a huge part of that. The “F.A.S.T.” philosophy has helped us stay ahead of the curve for our team and our clients and inspires us to try what some might consider risky new ideas (speedboats) without affecting the mothership. We’ll continue to do that, and while we don’t wish for another trial like the pandemic, we know that whatever the next test is, we’ll get through it, as our clients will, with a spirit of optimism – and F.A.S.T.