When We Reflect on the Crisis, How Much Effort Was Profitable?

At a time of uncertainty and isolation, reach out to the ones who have supported the mission of your church and be a guiding light to them. | Karla Baldelli

We are in the midst of unprecedented times in the history of our country. We have all felt the impact of the novel coronavirus on our everyday lives, and churches nationwide know this is the time they are needed most.

Never has it been as critical for us to step into our role as ambassadors for good as it is now. At the same time, we each have a personal impact we can make.

We can give hope in the midst of fear and anxiety. As Mr. Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.’” Church leaders are the “helpers.”

I encourage you at this time of uncertainty, social distancing and isolation to reach out to the ones who have supported the mission of your church. Be a guiding light to them.

Now is the time to place phone calls to the friends of your organization to simply check in on them. I call these “wellness calls.” The intention is to check on the well-being of people who make a difference in the lives of so many through their giving.

On a wellness call for one nonprofit organization I serve, a billionaire broke into tears. The stress of thousands of employees who cannot work was a heavy load. It just proves that even a billionaire needs someone to talk to. Even a billionaire has concerns.

Human connection is at the core of who we are, and relationships are at the core of church life. Plus, you have dozens if not hundreds of people without work who would like to feel like they are helping in this crisis. They can be mobilized to help make calls for you. We all need to know that we are still part of something big.

The anatomy of a wellness call might look like this:

  1. Say hello and let them know they are on your mind as we are all dealing with uncharted territory.
  2. State your intention that in this time of social distancing you are making an effort to connect individually to let them know they are important. Let them know you care about them.
  3. Share how your church is doing and how you’re navigating the changes in the current climate.
  4. Ask how they are doing with all of the social changes.
  5. Are they OK? Is their family OK?
  6. Do they need anything?
  7. Do they have any concerns?
  8. Reassure them that your church will remain steadfast in its focus to achieve the shared mission.
  9. Tell them people come first, so you are checking in to make sure they are OK.
  10. Most churches are greatly affected, so callers should be prepared to share concerns with constituents only if it is appropriate in the context of the conversation. These are not solicitation calls.
  11. If you have the opportunity, invite the person to attend a virtual church service, prayer meeting, small group, etc.

These wellness calls are not difficult to do. They will make your members feel appreciated and important. I am sure the one making the calls will find them personally rewarding as well.

Brena Baumann-Gonzalez, Senior Director of Philanthropy at Texas Children’s Hospital shared this story:

I just had a sweet call with Mary. She is 92 and lives in high-end senior living apartments. They are delivering meals to her door, and residents have been instructed to stay inside their apartments.

She is there with her cat, Sugar. She did buy extra cat food, but I told her I could be Cat Food Express Delivery if she needed it. She is very independent but asked for my number. She was an only child, never married, no family left.

I know she appreciated my call, but I have to say, I feel really good after talking to her.

If you can’t reach who you were calling, leave a kind voicemail. Tell them you are calling to make sure they are OK. After your calls, send a simple note – “happy mail” – to make their day in the future.

Remember, if church leaders are too busy at the moment to make calls and send notes yourself, provide this great opportunity to the people who find themselves stuck at home.

Wellness calls like these are what strengthens relationships. This is where the rubber meets the road.

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