Into the wind - relationships create new connections through new channels
An unprecedented pandemic; a difficult economic outlook; global uncertainty — these overwhelming challenges call for innovation and insight. They also call for conversation, discussion and debate — for gaining personal perspectives from people on the frontlines.
Named one of SAIT’s Outstanding Young Alumni in 2016, Josh Traptow (Administrative Information Management ’11) is deeply committed to preserving and celebrating Calgary’s heritage — and to sharing that passion, both professionally and through volunteer work, whenever and wherever he can. Here, the executive director of Heritage Calgary explains how charities have embraced digital initiatives to overcome some of the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic will have long-lasting effects on how charities roll out their programs, plan fundraising efforts and build relationships with donors into the future."
“When I first entered the non-profit sector in 2014, its biggest challenge was the downturn of the economy as oil and natural gas prices fell. That was when non-profits saw their corporate sponsorships and donations really start to take a hit. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on the sector. The pandemic will have long-lasting effects on how charities roll out their programs, plan fundraising efforts and build relationships with donors into the future.
“A lot of non-profits have adapted by offering their programming virtually. For example, at Heritage Calgary, we’ve worked to better promote our inventory of evaluated historical resources online, we’ve launched self-guided walking tours on our website so Calgarians can explore their own neighbourhoods, and we’ve updated our digital map of heritage site plaques.
"...non-profits will have to rethink how they are raising donor dollars and creating connections with their passionate supporters."
“In terms of fundraising, a lot of non-profits rely on a big annual gala event or on silent auctions. Because of physical distancing measures, those events are probably not going to be able to return or run as they once did. Without those big events — and with fewer in-person opportunities to build relationships with donors — non-profits will have to rethink how they are raising donor dollars and creating connections with their passionate supporters.
New tools for old connections
“But that’s where improving digital literacy and technical skills will play a huge role in future-proofing this sector. For example, as more non-profits create marketing and engagement materials in-house, professionals in this sector will need to have knowledge of technical design programs like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to deliver a high-quality product. As more programming moves online, coding skills and knowledge of websites will be important. And social media, online content and newsletters will be an essential way to form relationships and encourage donations in the future.
“Looking ahead, I think working in the non-profit sector will require adaptability, the capability to pivot quickly and the potential to remain relevant in an ever-changing world. And upskilling, particularly in terms of refining digital skills and learning how to work with new technologies, will be a huge component in all of that.”
Into the wind series
LINK magazine reached out to eight past recipients of SAIT’s Alumni Awards, asking for their advice on meeting the future, head-on. Dive into the series, Into the wind...
- Develop technical literacy – SAIT graduate Heather Culbert shares a strategy for success through broadening your skillset and developing technology literacy, regardless of your field
- Stay on the cutting edge – SAIT alumnus Ryan Scott shares tips for staying ahead of the curve in the construction industry and how innovation can make a company thrive.
- Approach work with energy, enthusiasm, and a smile – Alumnus Matt Squires shares his top takeaway tips from his own experiences and challenges in the hospitality and tourism industry.
- Relationships create connections through new channels – Josh Traptow (AIM ’11) shares the impact of COVID-19 on non-profits and how they can harness digital initiatives to build new connections.
- Be as technically savvy as possible – Energy industry insider and SAIT graduate Keith MacPhail speaks about the influence and vitality of technology in the energy industry.
- Increase workflow, efficiency and hireability – SAIT grads Gursh Bal and Kai Fahrion provide an overview of some of the challenges and opportunities they’ve identified within the renewable energy sector.