• Ron Rescigno

Anticipating the Unanticipated


I sincerely hope you and your organization were prepared for the disaster that struck the entire world back in early March—Covid-19.

While it’s true that none of us know when disasters will strike, we know that they happen. That begs for a plan, doesn’t it? In fact, I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that if you’re a nonprofit, large or small, at some point, you will face an emergency.

It’s the organization that has a plan in place before something happens and acts quickly to respond, that will have the most success.

When the pandemic of Covid-19 reared its ugly head back in early March, it was those nonprofits who had a plan in place and had practiced it that were able to put it into action easily enough.

Whether the response was done through direct mail, digitally, or in other ways, organizations that acted quickly and thoughtfully to inform their constituents of what they were doing to respond to the crisis were the ones that benefitted financially.

At Rescigno’s we helped our clients execute their plan by sending out emergency appeals specifically designed to inform first and ask second. Asking during a crisis, we have learned from our years of experience, is vital to a nonprofit’s ability to continue to provide much needed services to their beneficiaries. The ask, however, has to be how you will use support to respond to your needs as a result of the crisis at hand.

Sending out prompt and emotionally dynamic appeals in the mail and online result in significant revenue both in the number and size of donations received, both on and off line.

Your emergency plan can’t and shouldn’t just be tucked away somewhere until the emergency occurs. It has to be reviewed and practiced.

Reminds me of the old saying, “practice makes perfect.” I used to like that a lot until I heard the following: “perfect practice makes perfect.”

I once was in a play with my then teenaged son, Dominic. He had asked me to try out for a part in the local community theater production of “My Fair Lady.” I gladly did so.

For what seemed like weeks, I rehearsed for the part of Eliza’s father. If you’ve seen the play or the movie you know it’s a secondary lead role. Eliza’s father is the one who sings “I’m Getting Married in the Morning.” As the days drew near for my audition, I thought I knew the song pretty well. I actually thought I was singing and performing it rather brilliantly. When I performed the song for the director and her assistant I could see that I wasn’t connecting with them. After a couple of minutes, I was done with the audition.

The next day I learned that I didn’t get the part. They did cast me in much more of a supporting role, however. Dominic and I were able to sing and dance together on stage –in front of real live people. That was nice.

I learned a lesson though when I saw the man who did get the part I thought I wanted. Even though this was “just” community theater he was so much more polished and poised (and better) at just about everything he did on stage than I was. All that practicing and rehearsing I had done before the audition, it turns out, was just rehearsing doing things the wrong way.

During the course of rehearsals, our director would repeat time after time, “The way you rehearse it, is the way you’ll perform it.” The same goes for your plan. If you’re satisfied that you have a good one in place, at least a couple of times per year you should review and practice it.

If you’re not sure that the plan you have right now worked well during this pandemic, maybe you’d benefit from a professional review. If so, please contact me so we can chat about preparing your organization for the next crisis.