Mary Claire Walther
Mary Claire Walther
Since joining Dini Spheris, Mary Claire has worked with clients throughout Texas and across the country. Engaged in a variety of capital and endowment campaign settings, she has helped development and executive staff to believe that vision – coupled with patient, diligent hard work - can overcome the most daunting challenge. In addition, Mary Claire continues teaching and mentoring the next generation of nonprofit leaders as an adjunct lecturer with the University of Houston Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.  


This week, I have been experiencing, responding to and processing tremendous levels of fear, anxiety and uncertainty from my loved ones, my clients, my friends and my community. I expect many of you have been tackling the same questions, both personally and professionally.

  • What will life look like in six months? Twelve months? Eighteen months?
  • When can we gather safely again.
  • How will we protect our community?
  • How can I assure my Board and staff that there is a path forward? Should I adjust my campaign timeline and vision?
  • Do we need to realign our projects and goals in light of a new reality that stretches far into the horizon?

Unfortunately, the answer to every question depends on where you sit and on the unique situation of your organization and mission. At the end of the day, neither you nor I can predict what tomorrow will bring.

In our office, we have been sharing Howard Mark’s quote, “These days everyone has the same data regarding the present and the same ignorance regarding the future.” I can’t say it better.

So, the questions remain:

  • How do you fortify yourself?
  • How do you build and sustain confidence amongst your stakeholders?

There are many ways to approach this, and I encourage you to explore what works for you. But, I will tell you what works best for me. Answer the questions: What is going right, right now?

Where are you seeing or discovering the strengths of your organization? Take some time to reflect on what you see. And then find a way to share it.

  • Maybe your Board is stepping up in terms of financial giving, thoughtful decision-making and fast thinking. Send each member a short note thanking them for their service and recognizing their work.
  • Maybe a major funder acknowledged your need and made a transformational gift. Pick up the phone now to share how their dollars are at work.
  • Maybe you called a donor or prospect at the exact right moment, building a stronger relationship and connection. Send them an email or a hand-written note saying “thank you” for their candor, encouragement and thoughts; emphasize how vital they are to your organization.
  • Maybe your colleagues, staff or volunteers are creative engines, approaching difficulty with a smile and giving you a boost when you need it. Share a note of gratitude celebrating their work with your Board or send an “appreciation” email to your stakeholders. Take a picture and post it on social media. Say “thank you”, and say it often.
  • Maybe you have heard from a patron (or student or client or patient) who reached out to say that you changed their day, or maybe even saved their life. Capture that story and share it on social media, or in a “thank you” to those funders who have changed – maybe even saved – your organization.

The practice of gratitude changes our brain chemistry. It reframes our decision-making and helps build confidence that we are not alone in facing these challenges. Now is the time to find ways to be grateful, and to celebrate and protect your assets and strengths at every turn.

If you want to talk through what is going right, and how to leverage it for your organization, we are happy to jump on the phone with you for a call, free of charge. And, if you need an ear for what is going wrong, we are here for that, too!

Related Articles

Read more of our insights.