The Intro #47: Big lessons from a year of carefully laid (and quickly destroyed) plans

October 8, 2020
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Home 9 The Intro 9 The Intro #47: Big lessons from a year of carefully laid (and quickly destroyed) plans

Imagine this scenario:

You make amazing plans. A campaign calendar. Monthly communication themes. An email schedule. You have a vision for the quarter (or, even better, the year), and you are ready to do big things for your organization.

And then something happens. Like, say, a hurricane. Or a famine. Or, I don’t know, a global pandemic.

All of a sudden your (truly great) plans are back-burnered at best, and thrown out entirely at worst. Ugh.

If your experience has been anything like ours, this has been the unending story of 2020. We’ve planned so many things that have yet to happen (and might not ever see the light of the day). It sucks. We totally feel you.

But we’ve also learned the art of rapid response. Of shifting gears more quickly than we ever thought possible. Of prioritizing agility, flexibility, and creativity above so many other valuable skills.

Here are a few of our big lessons from a year of carefully laid (and quickly destroyed) plans:

  • The best teams work with what’s in front of them (not what they wish they had in front of them). Don’t be too precious about anything, because plans are only great until they change.
  • Timeliness matters. In the world of crisis communications (and crisis programming), you need to move fast. This is true for fundraising success (hello, emergency response), it’s true because your community is waiting to hear from you, and it’s true because the actual scenario to which you’re responding could change at any moment.
  • Done is better than perfect. We are all about being error-free, but sometimes all you need is for a project to be done. Get the email out the door. Post the graphic. Make the appeal. 100% is awesome, but most of the time 90% is really all it takes.

What plans have you upended? And what have you learned about rapid response fundraising and communications this year? We’d love hear from you!

Allison Kooser

Allison is Chief Storyteller at Swell+Good, where she partners with amazing organizations to help them bring their stories to life. She is an avid traveler, an expert takeout orderer, and a big believer in curiosity and kindness. She tries to learn something new every day, and she reads, writes, and paddleboards more than the average human.
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