One morning you will wake up and hear the good news. A vaccine was discovered for the coronavirus and enough doses are being distributed throughout the United States. You sign up, get vaccinated and even shake the hand of the person administering the vaccine. You might even give that person a hug. The End. And they all lived happily ever after.
If you are a nonprofit and need to raise funds for your organization, it won’t be business as usual. I noted in recent columns that a day will come when we will resume normal fundraising activities such as meeting one on one with major donors and holding large galas or special events involving masses of people. However, it won’t be easy.
There will be a group of donors who will maintain doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine, regardless of what medical experts say. We are chastened by this pandemic and, rightfully, our guards are up having heard conflicting news about what works and what doesn’t. Baby boomers are acutely aware that 80% or more of fatalities are 65 years of age or older and according to news reports it is estimated that the average age of these folks is 77. So, there will be a sobered group leery of the vaccine’s effectiveness. They also will be legitimately concerned about the pandemic elsewhere in the world and how it will affect us.
Other factors enter the picture, as well. These are divided into the following categories: (1) the state of the economy, (2) the state of peace and tranquility in cities where crime, looting and violence are out of control and (3) the state of politics dictated by the November elections.
The verdict is out on the state of the economy. While the stock market has been rebounding, it is but only one indicator of many to watch. GDP, Federal Reserve actions, corporate earnings, housing, inflation, unemployment figures, jobless claims, interest rates and the condition of U.S. debt compounded by trillions of stimulus dollars will factor in. Many are concerned that Congress is digging us into a deeper hole by printing more paper. As of now, the numbers are disturbing and, to a degree, we will not return to economic conditions as before the pandemic took hold.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses went out of business and will not be back or will be greatly diminished. Leading the pack are restaurants and commercial retailers that didn’t survive the impact of business losses. In some cases, online companies such as Amazon, eBay, Overstock.com and others are gobbling up remaining business opportunities.
New ways of doing business will affect the future economy. Automation is spreading and relieving blue collar workers from tasks humans once held. A recent news report showed robots in a hair salon styling customers’ hair, including washing, coloring and cutting. Self-check outs in stores like Target, Home Depot and grocery chains enjoy the benefit of sidestepping long lines in regular checkout aisles. We also know that more automated tasks are being introduced in the automotive industry and artificial intelligence will likely replace bookkeepers in the financial world, proofreaders in the publishing world, automated benefits systems in the HR world and the list grows.
Our country is shaking with seismic protests, lawlessness and anarchy that are decimating cities. Ongoing looting, arson and the creation of unsafe business districts where people are attacked and stores vandalized are sounding alarm bells. If this trend continues, it will instill unquelled fear in the hearts of philanthropists who are genuinely worried what these actions are doing to the country.
As statues come tumbling down and history gets erased and revised, donors will not be in a mood to contribute but, instead, will hold on to savings and investments in case they need the money. This is true no matter how wealthy they are—just another psychological impediment that nonprofits need to overcome.
The forthcoming elections also will play into supporter concerns. If the radical left takes the White House and the Senate, and retains the House, there will be a shift away from the pro-business philosophy of the Trump administration. Onerous regulations will be promulgated and there will be a concerted effort to significantly raise taxes. Spending may reach unsustainable heights as left-leaning causes such as climate change, energy cutbacks in fracking, coal and oil occur with deference to the New Green Deal and priority given to illegal immigrants in areas including healthcare, welfare benefits and jobs. And this is the short list.
So, how will nonprofits fare after the pandemic? We will be injected with a new dose of reality.
Norman B. Gildin lived in Teaneck, New Jersey, for 34 years and fundraised for nonprofits for more than three decades raising upwards of $93 million. He is the president of Strategic Fundraising Group whose mission is to assist nonprofits raise critical funds. He can be reached at [email protected]