My Take on Hope and Resilience in the Nonprofit Sector

Posted on June 7, 2024

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By Jillian Schranz 

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to be a part of the Event 360 team attending Collaborative by Classy during the week, then wrapping up our final run/walk event of the spring season that weekend. It’s one of the many things I love about this job — getting to flex my brain and my muscles all in the same week. Last week here on the blog, Abbie shared some great takeaways from Collaborative by Classy, but I wanted to share just a few more themes I’ll be digging into a little deeper this summer in the “offseason,” which is really just a brief gap between our spring and fall events. 

The conference sessions this year were inspiring and focused less on tactics and more on high-level concepts to drive success in nonprofit organizations. These themes included leadership, strategy and change, but my favorite speakers shared their ability to balance hope and resilience. One thing you should know about me to understand why these two concepts have been stuck in my head is that I am, at my core, a pessimist. I tend to have an all-or-nothing personality and would rather have no expectations and be surprised than have any expectations at all and be disappointed. I’ve worked at this over the years, and as the world becomes more polarized, I’m trying to learn how to exist in the uncomfortable space between black and white. Here are some nuggets of wisdom I’ll be thinking about well into the fall: 

We need hope. During many of my favorite presentations, the speakers, in their roles as nonprofit development professionals, nonprofit founders, or advocates, were attempting to do big and hard things, and yet somehow had the clarity to see through the complexities and not be discouraged. They weren’t afraid to have and maintain hope as they led teams through challenges. Ai-jen Poo reminded attendees that “Hope is missing, and it is the thing we need the most”.  

Resiliency is the watchword. I look at the world and challenges ahead and pivot for the nearest distraction, but all my favorite speakers rooted their messages in resiliency. Keynote speaker Xavier Ramey called for “relentless resiliency” if nonprofit organizations are to navigate 2024 and beyond with success. I AM ALS founder Brian Wallach implored us to be “resilient in every way,” as his personal strength lies in when he gets rejected. He doesn’t get defeated and says we’ll get there another way. Finally, Andrew Davis spent his entire session (and a whole book he authored!) on how to lead and be resilient in an increasingly polarized world (spoiler alert: you must spend a lot of time in that uncomfortable place between black and white).  

These lessons extend well beyond the world of events and peer-to-peer event fundraising, but the lessons can make us better humans and better leaders which trickles down to our organizations and teams. If you work in peer-to-peer event fundraising, I already know one thing about you: you’re a DoGOODer — a maker of change. We need both hope and resiliency to do our jobs well and the world needs us to do our jobs well. There’s never a real offseason in peer-to-peer fundraising events, but my goal for the summer is to dig a little deeper into these topics and hit the fall more hopeful with tools to navigate the complexities that lie ahead. 

Jillian Schranz

Jillian has worn many hats at Event 360 in the past 17 years — from fundraising coach to project manager, to event IT support. She knows our work and our team inside and out. In her current role as Director of Business Development, she can perfectly partner our clients with the services they need and ensure our team delivers flawless event experiences that yield happy participants and stellar results.

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