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When You Are Non-Essential...

I can guarantee that during a pandemic, only a few development officers are essential to the cause...others should stay home and remain in the house, socially distancing themselves from most others. What should a development officer do? What could anyone do?

  • Every development professional is tired. In fact, most people are tired. Since you have the time to yourself--and assuming your children will follow your lead--take a nap every day. Make it a long one. Then go to bed early.

  • Make lunch and dinner. Engage your kids or your spouse in doing something special like making pizza or ravioli. Ravioli is a real project.

  • Watch movies...there are some good ones on On Demand--a free one is Inside Man, from 2006 and starring Denzel Washington, a great thriller about a bank heist...or for the family there is Milo Ventimiglia's The Art of Racing in the Rain, ...and for movies that are first run try Little Women which is full of spirit and stars Saoirse Ronan.

  • Something you or the whole family can do is a jigsaw puzzle. Finish it and frame it as a reminder of when you were in quarantine together.

  • It's a good time to begin a sewing craft--perhaps needlepoint or cross-stitch.

  • What about that short story that you have never had time to write?

  • Go out for long walks--the gyms will all be closed and you have to walk off the ravioli while keeping your stress down.

  • Play basketball, take up jogging, do yoga (plenty of good home yoga programs on TV).

  • Tackle the exercise equipment that you have been using as a clothes rack.

  • Clean some of your closets.

  • Play some board games--you are probably going to be tired of the games on your phone before long. Play Monopoly the long way.

  • Read a great book, catch up on your magazines. Have one of your kids read a book out loud for family entertainment.

  • Make sure that your family and friends are in a good place, call them and make sure.

  • Older kids can offer to help one of the neighbors by getting groceries or doing an odd job around their house.

  • Be sure to make popcorn for a special treat. It goes great with Swedish fish.

The list goes on. When you have caught up with your own health and peace of mind, you can begin to think about development again.

  • Assess your situation and make sure you focus on the things that must be done first.

  • Most importantly, check on your donors who may be alone or simply, like everyone, feeling isolated from what is going on in the world of people outside their own home.

  • Plan the details of your upcoming gala, develop some new ideas for sponsors.

  • Write the proposal that you have been postponing, you have the time.

  • Call your colleagues and find out what they are doing and thinking, what they are working on...

  • Get back in touch with donors who you may not have talked with in a while. Check on them while delivering some news about your programs. Just a few minutes will be appreciated.

  • Write a solicitation letter or an update letter for your prospects and donors.

  • Develop a list of all of your donors who may be great planned giving with your planned giving officer and put a strategy in place.

  • Check in with your favorite development professional, perhaps you can brainstorm a strategic plan for some of your shared prospects.

  • Create a conference call for all of your staff--agendas, reports, etc. It is a great way to keep everyone on course during a period of extended free time and little deadlines.

This list also goes on and on...yes, it takes discipline, but put yourself in a winning position in every way for the day when you will go back to work, knowing that social distancing will be a thing of the past.


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