The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. For nonprofits and philanthropic organizations, the disruption caused by the virus has interrupted essential fundraising efforts, drastically altered daily operations and hurled organizations into a state of uncertainty.
More than ever before, nonprofits need business leaders’ help. But not just as sources of donations. The challenges introduced by the pandemic are forcing philanthropically minded individuals to rethink how they support the local institutions that are vital to so many communities in need. Innovative minds in the business community have the opportunity and obligation to play a key role in making sure these incredible organizations can continue to thrive and work toward their missions.
Philanthropy and community betterment has been core to Wescott’s mission and vision since the firm’s inception more than 30 years ago. Beyond providing financial support to the many nonprofits that serve the greater Philadelphia area, Wescott executives have a proven track record of lending their expertise and intellectual capital to many worthy organizations, all in an effort to catalyze the innovative philanthropy that creates lasting, meaningful impact in our communities and the lives of our neighbors.
Recently, Wescott Founder and CEO, Grant Rawdin, and Wescott Partner and Director of Business Operations, Margie Abrams, discussed why strategic, innovative philanthropy is more important than ever in the face of COVID-19 and how they’re using new thinking to help organizations like the Urban Affairs Coalition and People’s Emergency Center right now.
The time to lead is now.
“In my years at Wescott, I’ve witnessed our community – and world – endure tremendous challenges. And what I’ve learned is that it is particularly these moments of great challenge that we need to be most present and ready to lead,” said Grant Rawdin. Wescott has a longstanding track record of providing philanthropic and strategic leadership for organizations including the Urban Affairs Coalition, Uplift Center for Grieving Children, Bike MS, People’s Emergency Center and Camp No Worries. Most recently, Grant, Chair Emeritus of UAC’s Board of Directors and current Vice Chair, and Wescott were featured in UAC’s virtual forum “Ending Racism: This Is a Movement, Not a Moment”, highlighting this leadership.
“For us, it comes naturally to translate our giving mentality into guidance and tangible results for the organizations we work with,” said Grant. “When we started to see the impact of COVID-19 in our communities, we immediately mobilized to see how we can support the causes we care most about both financially and through business development and leadership.”
The landscape has changed, need has escalated, and we must think outside of the box.
For years, nonprofits and philanthropists have leaned on reliable and familiar platforms to raise funds. “Whether it was galas, in-person drives or annual giving campaigns, nonprofits were generally able to develop some sense of consistency in their planning. COVID-19 changed all of that and ushered in a need for innovation,” said Margie Abrams, Wescott’s Director of Business Operations and longtime supporter and volunteer on behalf of People’s Emergency Center.
“As COVID-19 gripped the world, virtual fundraising became the new frontier in sustaining nonprofits and providing much-needed relief. It’s taken the form of virtual events and facilitating and granting gifts digitally. The shift has represented much more than just a response to the pandemic; it has signaled a notable, rapid shift in the way leaders think about philanthropy. The focus has become how we give, not just how much we give,” said Margie. “More than ever, we need to have meaningful conversations with donors. We need to present options and avenues for giving and, in this time of immense need, we need to think broadly about philanthropy. It is more than just relief – it’s a long-term plan for impact.”
Being philanthropic means more than being a donor
“Philanthropy is not narrow. It isn’t just dollars going to a cause,” said Margie. “We’ve had key roles in helping our nonprofit partners implement new technological solutions to streamline business operations. We’ve helped bring inspiring ideas to life by lending intellectual capital and strategic planning to the organizations we work with. We’ve fostered entrepreneurial thinking and for-profit principles to ensure nonprofit sustainability in even the most challenging times. All of these actions are philanthropy. All of these actions better the community and drive society forward.” Chief among ways to help nonprofits innovate their operations is serving on Boards and in other leadership positions.
Philanthropy builds communities and relationships.
Financial advisors are uniquely poised to not only use giving to directly support and improve communities, they can use charity to forge and deepen relationships with clients who are philanthropically minded. “Many of our clients have missions they are passionate about. Because we are like-minded, they can count on us to bring innovative solutions to the table to help them achieve their goals and make a difference. Empathy is core to our business model, our client relationships and our mission to empower the many worthy nonprofits who are creating a brighter future for our communities every day,” said Grant.
Just as nonprofit organizations do everything they can to support their local communities, business leaders must return the favor by getting innovative and finding new ways to help these incredible organizations grow and thrive. During challenging times, this requires thinking outside the box, whether it be leveraging new technology, lending intellectual capital in addition to financial support and dedicating our time in a leadership role. In the face of great challenges, nonprofit organizations deserve our greatest effort. At Wescott, we’re dedicated to putting our best foot forward.