Living through a global pandemic can stir up more emotions than any of us ever thought possible. Some days I move from disbelief to panic, to mental paralysis to tears, and then to laughter – what?! And that might be over the course of just one day. Can anyone else relate?
Looking for a distraction from the constant bombardment of current events that I can’t control, I’ve found myself working hard to be intentional about establishing a daily positive mindset. You know what ALWAYS helps me do this? Focusing on helping others.
Come to find out, I’m not alone in tapping into my inner kindness as a coping skill. Over the last five months, on a daily basis we read about or witness small acts of kindness happening all over the world.
Why do acts of kindness seem to increase when times get tough?
Maybe it’s because, when so much feels out of control, it’s our way of controlling how we feel.
Why Kindness is Good for Us … Especially During Times of Crisis
According to Dartmouth University’s Random Acts of Kindness Fact Sheet, being kind and helping others actually decreases pain, stress, anxiety, depression and blood pressure. These acts do so by increasing our level of endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller) and decreasing our level of cortisol (the body’s stress hormone).
Being kind, or even witnessing someone else being kind, also increases oxytocin (the love hormone), energy, happiness, lifespan, pleasure and serotonin (the feel-good chemical that heals you, calms you down and makes you happy).
The biological reasons for being kind set aside, with the amount of negative energy coming at us from all angles right now, many of us are choosing to focus our own personal energy on things that make us feel good.
Never a More Perfect Time for Social Impact Organizations
With so many of us experiencing the desire to focus on good, help others and make a difference in a world that desperately needs kindness, there’s never been a greater need for organizations whose mission it is to have a positive impact on our most vulnerable groups within our communities.
All acts of kindness – big or small – are important right now. We ALL can smile and say hello (from behind our mask) to someone we pass on our daily walk, check in on an elderly neighbor or pay for a stranger’s coffee in the drive-thru line at Starbucks. But we all know that, at the moment, the need is much greater than small acts of kindness can fulfill on their own.
People everywhere are yearning for bigger ways to help. They need organized efforts to tell them very clearly what needs to be done and how to do it. Nonprofits and social impact organizations, if positioned properly, can be beacons of light by leading our communities (both individuals and groups or businesses) through an organized effort that makes a much bigger impact than one individual can make on his or her own.
But with the economic crisis that our nation is facing, it’s evident that there are fewer financial resources to go around right now. Some predictions say that almost one-third of nonprofits may not survive the pandemic and resulting recession. (Washington Post, 8/3/20: Nonprofits in trouble: One-third of organizations may not survive pandemic, recession)
Putting that fear aside, nonprofits must turn their focus back to why they were established in the first place. They must double down on efforts to communicate their mission in a way that emotionally motivates people and organizations in their communities to join a kindness movement.
5 Things Nonprofits Can Do to Not Just Survive, but Thrive, During the Pandemic
Money seems tight right now, especially for nonprofits. But that doesn’t mean that you need to halt in your tracks and stop doing things to promote your mission and ask for help. In fact, there’s never been a greater time to get creative and bond with your communities in a vulnerable and collaborative way! There are plenty of things you can do that cost very little to no money, and here are just a few:
- Re-evaluate your messaging. Compassion, empathy and gratitude are key right now. As outlined above, people are yearning for kindness. Tap into that by showing that you are front and center when it comes to being kind to others, and also that you are very grateful for those who join you in your mission to help others.
- Be a resource of information to your community. Position your organization as a pillar of your community’s foundation by providing access to free information, all in one place, to make it easy for your donors and volunteers to get information on ways to help - not just help your organization, but the community at large. For example, provide a link to financial information on Giving in the Time of COVID. Or provide links to essential services for those most affected in your community. Show that you understand that, in order for the entire community to thrive, we must all help each other out. By providing free information on ways to help not just your organization, you are positioning yourself as an expert in helping your community to thrive.
- Utilize social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts are FREE. If you don’t have social media accounts, set them up. If you already have social media accounts, be sure you are using them regularly. They are important vehicles to get information out to donors and volunteers, but more importantly, they are a way for you to emotionally connect with your audience. Feature captions and images that endear your audience to your mission, your people and your stories.
- Utilize local media outlets. This is another way to get your story out and to increase awareness of not only how your organization is helping others, but ways that others can join your kindness mission. Reach out to your local news stations, newspapers, online blogs, etc. They need some positive stories to focus on right now!
- Ask for help. This seems obvious, but sometimes doesn’t feel appropriate during a time of crisis for so many. Don’t shy away from this. Use your outlets to ask for help. Be very clear on what the need is (either financial or volunteer-based) and be sure that your audience knows exactly what they need to do to help you help others. Many people want to help, they just don’t know how.
The kindness movement is real and it is happening right now. Be out in front of the pack and lead the way in helping your community to not only survive, but thrive, during these trying times. Showcase your compassion and authenticity. Kindness really does matter … now more than ever.
For more information, or for support in positioning your organization to lead the way in the kindness movement, visit DOGPAWStudio.