Bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin guest-hosted our weekly Toolkit Talk sessions on June 1, 2020. He captivated a group of over 700 attendees with his profound thinking with respect to nonprofit resilience.

You can watch the full recording of that session with Seth here, or dive right to Seth’s key takeaways below.

4 Ideas for Nonprofit Resilience through COVID-19

Leading your nonprofit through the aftermath of COVID-19 won’t be easy. But if you exercise a little outside-the-box thinking, you’ll stand a much better chance of guiding your nonprofit to long-term resiliency.

With that in mind, here are four key takeaways from our insightful Toolkit Talk with Seth Godin.

IDEA #1: Have the Courage to Reconsider Your Business Model

Forget the sunk costs. Grab the opportunity to rethink the way you do business.

Have you ever invested in yourself or your career heavily, only to find that what you invested in wasn’t what you wanted after all?

Perhaps you went to law school only to learn that you hated being a lawyer. Instead of slogging on year after year, you grabbed an opportunity to make a change.

In Seth Godin’s language, you decided that the “sunk costs” you invested in law school didn’t merit the price of living in a sub-optimal way.

And that, according to Seth, is one way of looking at the current crisis that faces every nonprofit leader. Do you stick with systems and programs that your organization developed over many years, but may no longer be the best way to carry out your work? Or do you use this crisis to rethink the way your organization carries out its work?

  • Do you have courage to get rid of flabby, inefficient programs?
  • Do you have the will to stop doing what you’ve always done and use this opportunity to take a step back and reconsider?

This may be one of the rare opportunities to radically transform your organization so you do more good, more efficiently and more effectively.

IDEA #2: Challenge Common Assumptions

Recruit donors to support your organization’s operations — turn them into heroes.

You probably think that donors won’t fund operations. But you might be surprised. Consider going to a very few, large donors and ask them to cover all of your ‘boring’ operating funds so that everyone else can fund the sexier programming. Treat those special donors like heroes. They understand that operations are the foundation of everything.

According to Seth, people don’t really care what they fund. But they care deeply about how they feel.

  • Make donors feel good, generous, and optimistic.
  • Make donors feel like heroes.
  • Make donors feel like they belong.

Do that, and they will want to give again and again and again.

Once a few inspired donors fund your operations, every other donor can give to direct service.

IDEA #3: Build a Tribe

Don’t scramble for donors. Work on building connections.

From his earliest writing about marketing, Seth Godin has been a proponent of creating a group of people who feel connected. He advocates for building relationships that deepen over time.

He encourages people to “fire” donors whose values and behaviors don’t fit the organization. And to have the courage to invite people into your organization who care enough to step up and make a difference.

Find the people who care and invite them into your circle. You don’t need or even want everyone — you need and want the people who will be delighted to be in your tribe.

The connections you build in your tribe will lead to ideas, solutions, and contributions.

IDEA #4: Use Zoom to Engage People and Build Connections

Don’t use virtual meetings for boring reports and run-of-the-mill meetings.

You have the opportunity to build your community while sitting at home. Don’t sit and wait until things return to normal. Find out who is using the technology really well and steal their ideas. Seth even invites you to steal ideas from him!

Engage participants via Zoom. Ask for their ideas, send them into breakout rooms, and let them connect and share ideas with one another.

Watch the Full Toolkit Talk with Seth Godin

We’ve hit on the main points from our afternoon with Seth Godin, but you’ll gain so much more by watching the the full interview:

Toolkit Talk: Seth Godin on Nonprofit Resilience »

Our Toolkit Talk townhall sessions are free and open to the public. Each week we discuss how to move your capital campaign and fundraising efforts forward during uncertain times. We invite you to register for future Toolkit Talks and sit in on these insightful discussions.

And, of course, feel free to join the conversation here — add your comment below.


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