Budget Shortfalls & Bold Leadership: Follow-up from #NewNormalCLT

Our online nonprofit roundtable that takes place each Friday at noon is called The New Normal. A promise we make is that it will only last 30 minutes, making it easily digestable as a “can’t miss” weekly activity. That also means we can’t always get to everything we plan to cover.

Luckily, we have our Monday morning wrap-up to capture everything we were unable to cover on Friday. Did you miss it? Check out the recording here.

Additional Panelist Questions

Chris, can you speak to scenario planning? Specifically, how various timelines or sets of conditions have factored in to the decisions you’ve made and will make moving forward?

Chris Jackson: I have found scenario planning to be helpful even in the best of times.  It helps our organization be prepared to adjust to various factors and be in a better position to ensure positive outcomes.  This type of planning has been even more important given the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 Pandemic. We have been running scenario analysis from the early stages of the pandemic affecting our region.  This has included, but not limited to various stay at home orders at the local, regional, state and national level, possible COVID related events effecting our facilities, and other factors affecting our team members and others we serve.

This planning has helped us understand when we might need to make different decisions based on changing external factors and provided us with clarity about the impact these decisions would have on our team, program participants, customers, and the financial stability of the organization.  It has also helped us communicate our actions with transparency.  Both what we know for sure and what is not clear yet.

Michelle, on the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Facebook page, there was a post that started “There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you experience the beauty of live music with your friends and loved ones.” And while I agree, #CSOatHome is such a bold and innovative platform. Do you think this pandemic will accelerate the rate at which arts organizations embrace the digital medium?

Michelle Hamilton: The ban on mass gatherings has surely catapulted performing arts groups like the CSO forward in our use of technology. As Basil and Chris mentioned on the panel, many of us are now doing things to innovate that we may have had on the shelf waiting for the “right time” in the future.  Much of what the CSO is doing today to engage audiences, both publicly through our website and social platforms and privately with donors and subscribers, will remain part of our toolkit after the crisis abates.

What will never change is the thrill of live performance.  For years we’ve been able to stream orchestras from around the world, yet people continue to come to concert halls to hear their local orchestras perform.  Live performances engage the senses in a way a recorded or streamed performance never will.  I spoke with a donor today who said the concert is the centerpiece but the complete experience, the people she is with and the energy in the concert hall on a night at the Symphony, can never be replaced by a recorded or streamed experience.  I see most of our concerts more than once, even three days in a row, and I come away with three completely different, and remarkable, experiences.  I so look forward to the day when it’s again safe to gather for the exhilarating experience of a live performance of the full orchestra.

Basil, hands-on, service-based leadership training is how the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi learn and channel servant leadership. How will learnings from this pandemic potentially change how you think about the mix of those experiences into the future?

Basil Lyberg: As college students return to school this fall, they will be returning to a campus community that will be forced to change. Football games, lecture classrooms and residence life will all look different. As a result, we will have to change as well to serve our mission until threat of COVID-19 is greatly reduced and we have a vaccine in hand. For The Ability Experience, this will mean finding ways to foster relationships between students and people with disabilities when they may not be able to walk down the street for an event. Innovations like inclusive gaming will be critical in providing opportunities that can’t be impacted by the reach of this virus.

We also are going to have to do more work to educate students on how to be servant leaders and work to encourage their heart. Just last week we had a Zoom call with our chapter philanthropy chairs. It felt more like an AFP Charlotte luncheon with topics on how fundraise in a crisis and breaking down preconceived notions that students have about fundraising and service. Students want to give back and sometimes just need the tools and encouragement to go for it. There has been no time in their lives that servant leadership has been more critical or needed to meet the needs of our communities.

Bonus Content: How to Write a Compelling ‘State of the Organization’ Update

This week we add a new feature to #TheNewNormal – bonus content! We were so impressed by Chris Jackson’s first-person statement on LinkedIn entitled Leadership in the Era of Coronavirus that we dedicated a whole post to it. Specifically, we believe nonprofit Executive Directors and CEOs should consider being more vulnerable and reflective in their communication to the public during the current public health crisis.

In this post, we outline six steps to writing (or recording) a compelling statement about the state of your nonprofit. We also urge you to make it public. Why is that important? Click above to learn more.

Announcing: Crisis Planning Services

Are you on Zoom a lot these days? We are too. Our area nonprofits are struggling to determine a pathway forward during COVID-19 and Next Stage is rising to the call.

This month, we are formalizing a service line we have already deployed for multiple organizations. Read more here about how we can help your nonprofit navigate near-term challenges and emerge on the other side of this in a better position to meet your mission.

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