DER COVID-19 Survey Results

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If you’re feeling stressed, stretched, and exhausted right now, you’re not alone. See the full results of the May 2020 Development Executives Roundtable COVID-19 Survey here, or read the summary below.

HOW HAS YOUR WORK CHANGED? Our DER COVID-19 survey shows how you are adapting to changing conditions, with more than 80% saying they are now working from home; 46% working more hours; 40% working with children/pets/distractions at home; 39% working at strange hours; 20% working with less staff support; and 14% working fewer hours.

HOW ARE YOU DOING? When we asked how you’re doing, you told us that while you’re hanging in there, working to stay positive and feeling grateful for what you have, you’re also stressed, anxious about the unknown, and exhausted, as shown in the word cloud above.

ENGAGING IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Your professional development sources today include: more free webinars (77%); reading more free articles (54%); attending virtual networking events (21%); and attending more paid webinars (16%). Some are engaging in less professional development now due to time limitations (20%) and lack of focus/interest (14%.)

VALUE OF VIRTUAL EDUCATION You have mixed opinions about the value of online educational programs, with 47% of those with an opinion saying online programs provide less value than in-person events, 44% saying they provide about the same value, and 10% saying they provide more value. The most commonly mentioned weakness is how difficult it is to support casual networking and interactivity (as one person at a time can talk on a videoconference); the most commonly mentioned strength is that online sessions require no travel, and are therefore easier to fit into work schedules.

OPPORTUNITIES TO CONNECT You said you are interested in activities that allow you to connect socially and build your networks, by: meeting in small breakout groups (59%); staying 15 minutes after the end of an online event to chat with others (46); highlighting job openings at the beginning of each program (39%); joining virtual social events like coffees or happy hours (37%); and arriving 15 minutes prior to an online event to chat (29%).

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE? While acknowledging that the needs of the communities we serve have not gone away — and in some cases have become more urgent — you told us that you draw your inspiration from: seeing philanthropists meet the moment by increasing their giving; seeing the heroism of medical staff, first responders and essential workers; and seeing the kindness of neighbors and the solidarity among colleagues. You told us about being in nature and working in your gardens, and also for being grateful for PPP loans, simplified funding applications, and having terrific staff.

We are evaluating your suggestions for relevant program topics and better online networking opportunities, so watch for changes in the months ahead. If you have additional suggestions, contact our Administrative Director Jeri Devereaux at

To see the full results click here.

Member Spotlight: Paul Blaney, Manager of Individual Giving for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Paul Blaney is the Manager of Individual Giving for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, working with a five-person Development team, who is responsible for acquisition, cultivation and stewardship of a broad-based portfolio of major donors.  LightHouse provides education, training, advocacy, and community for blind individuals in California and around the world. Founded and based in San Francisco since 1902, LightHouse is one of the largest and most established comprehensive blindness organizations in North America.

Paul came to development after working in several nonprofit leadership positions centered on human and social services.  He moved to San Francisco in 2001 and began at Larkin Street Youth Services in a direct service role.  In 2005, he was invited to join Larkin Street’s small but mighty development team as a Donor Relations Coordinator.  He says, “I ‘took’ to Development with enthusiasm and worked my way towards providing support directly to Board members and individual donors.”

In his years in development, he has seen how technology and communication has narrowed the window of opportunity to pique and maintain someone’s attention and engagement.  “The ability to assess and capture the essence of what’s needed to bolster your organization’s case for support and removing all barriers to access are essential,” he explains, “No longer do we have a guarantee that donors will read the entirety of every message received. We are now responsible for delivering bullet point messages that resonate with donors in the flash of a few moments. We have less time to make a lasting impression.”

Paul has a very interesting “side hustle” working as a professional voiceover actor for radio, TV and film.  Two years ago, he was an audio describer for a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, directed by Paul Dano.  “Audio description is narration added to the soundtrack to describe important visual details that cannot be understood from the soundtrack alone,” he explains. “Audio description informs individuals who are blind or have low vision about visual content essential for comprehension of the film.  In my work with LightHouse, I support many blind and low vision donors. This experience helped galvanize my view that everyone should have the right to information that is fully accessible.”

Outside of work, Paul writes poems, incessantly grooms his 13-year-old black pug, Seymour, shoots A LOT of photographs, travels (recent notable trips include Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Brazil), and goes to the cinema (averaging one film per week on the big screen).

Paul has been a member of DER for about three years.  “DER has opened my world to a community of development professionals from across the Bay Area that I would otherwise not meet, “he said, “The workshops and webinars broaden my knowledge base and affords me the opportunity to learn from extraordinary fundraisers.”

Paul was recently invited to join the Board of AFP Golden Gate Chapter – one of the largest chapters in the nation. He also sits on the National Philanthropy Day Tributes committee.