Profile in Leadership
Behind the Hallelujah chorus in the introduction of the first COVID-19 vaccine was textbook collaboration between science, industry, philanthropy and government. A heroic leadership role was played by Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla who kept pushing, pushing and pushing, and in doing so, cutting the typical turnaround time from more than 10 years to under one. By his own admission, his demanding leadership bordered on the unreasonable. From urging vaccine researchers to move fast to pressing the manufacturing staff to ramp up, Bourla motivated employees to go beyond even their own ambitious goals to meet a gargantuan challenge. He proudly points to 248 long days and nights, 150 active clinical trial sites in six countries, 43,661 courageous volunteers, plus thousands of dedicated Pfizer and BioNTech SE colleagues, and the hopes of billions, all culminating in one glorious moment. Bourla’s personal journey is fascinating. He was born in Greece to Jewish parents and began his career as a veterinarian. He joined Pfizer in 1993 and steadily worked his way up, becoming CEO in 2019. Much like philanthropy itself, the vaccine success story demonstrates what we can accomplish when we come together for a common and uplifting goal. These are moments when we can make the impossible possible!
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Zooming for Dollars
Hopefully, as 2021 progresses, we will see a resumption of face-to-face meetings with donors and donor prospects. But even then, we’re not going to see an abandonment of virtual communication, especially video-conferencing. Often the steepest hill to climb is simply getting on the schedule of donors, especially major gift donors. Video-conferencing is so scheduling-friendly. Virtual communication is different than an in-person meeting. We need to plan, strategize and prepare very differently. Right now, we all must confront the challenge of Zoom Fatigue. You can read my article published by Candid Learning for more on the subject.
Let it Ring
Is there anything more annoying than endless Robo calls? A Pew Research Center web survey of U.S. adults indicates that Americans just aren’t picking up the phone much anymore. Eight in ten Americans say they don’t generally answer their cellphone when an unknown number calls. But not all Americans are equally likely to ignore these calls. While at most, a quarter of Americans from any demographic group say they generally answer the phone for an unknown number – and 19% of U.S. adults overall say they do so – men are more likely than women to answer the phone. And though much has been made of younger adults’ distaste for phone conversations, the survey finds that Americans ages 18 to 29 are more likely to take calls from unknown numbers than those in older age groups. In addition, Hispanic and Black adults are more likely than White adults to say they generally pick up for a number they don’t recognize, as are those living in households with lower income levels compared with those from middle- and higher-income households. The majority of Americans (67%) say their general practice is to not answer the phone when an incoming call is from an unknown number but to check a voicemail if one is left. The share of Americans who say they generally ignore any voicemail left after not answering a call is relatively low (14%) but does vary by gender, race and ethnicity, and income level.
Home Field Advantage?
As the NFL limps its way to the finish line this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, teams are continuing to restrict the number of fans in the stands, with many stadiums having none at all. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert illuminated how that trend is hurting more than just the fans themselves — it appears to be negatively affecting home teams as well. Road teams this season, Seifert reported, have won 49.3% of games. That’s the highest rate since at least 2001, and according to the NFL, the top modern-day road winning percentage for an entire season is 48.4 in 1972. From 2001-2018, the average winning percentage for a road team was 42.9. Last year, that number increased to 47.15, and it’s even higher this year. The photo shows the New England Patriots playing the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of a game at an empty Gillette Stadium. To be frank, the way the Patriots have played this year, I don’t know how many fans would show up even without restrictions.
On the Bookshelf: Delusional Altruism
Turning Up the Volume in 2021
Most people would never consider themselves a philanthropist. They reserve that for billionaires and the wealthiest among us who are in a position to make mega-gifts and capture headlines. Certainly, we are all indebted to that special group who have the capacity and heart to share so generously. But remember philanthropy isn’t all about donating money. At the end of the day, anyone can be a philanthropist. It also means sharing your time, skills, and knowledge in any capacity — whether it’s delivering food to seniors, building a home, or mentoring students. Each of us in our own way can and should make a difference in improving the lot of others and paving the way for brighter future.
Quiz: Voter Turnout
Stratagems is published monthly by Jim Eskin, Founder of Eskin Fundraising Training, LLC. We offer workshops and customized training sessions for board members, staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations of all kinds and sizes. For details about our services and information, or to find out how to schedule a training session for your organization, visit our website. Follow our events on Facebook, and read more articles about philanthropy on our LinkedIn page.
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