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Squeezing the lemons

Anthony BoccanfusoBy Anthony Boccanfusso

These are extraordinary times.

The unprecedented cancellation this week of everything from university classes to the NCAA Basketball Tournament wasn’t even on the radar 10 days ago. Last Friday, UIDP canceled our spring conference. Recognizing the value of the content and the preparation our speakers had already invested, we announced our first online, on-demand conference, UIDPVirtual 2020 the same day. It’s been a whirlwind seven days and a full-team offense to transition the speakers and sessions to a virtual event.

Among non-profit membership groups, we are not alone; a recent benchmarking poll found that 73% of association executives have canceled or are in the process of cancelling an in-person event. A third are deeply concerned about how COVID-19 will affect their organizations’ financial health.

UIDP is fortunate that our board has planned for extenuating financial circumstances, but we don’t take our members and their continued support for granted. Times this extraordinary require us all to assess our resources and capabilities so we can respond with effective solutions that underscore our unique value to those we serve.

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing everyone’s adaptability and mettle; our colleagues in industry, academia, and federal funding agencies are working overtime to squeeze lemons into lemonade. While the words crisis and chaos are so often linked, I am struck by the display of another quality, character. We are grateful that so many have, in the past week, stepped forward to support UIDPVirtual 2020. The warm messages and tangible efforts to contribute since we embarked on this odyssey have been truly inspiring.

It’s UIDP’s character, our core purpose, to strengthen collaborative partnerships that accrue to everyone’s benefit. Although we will miss the in-person energy of our in-person events, we’re excited about the opportunity to advance learning, sharing and professional growth March 23-26 with you.