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Embracing Change

By Kristin Morgan, PMP

How did you feel when you realized your daily routine was about to be thrown out the window? For me, I can still picture the exact moment two weeks ago.

I could feel my heartbeat in my arms and legs. I was aware of every breath, running in a room lit only by orange lightbulbs. (Yes, I’m an Orangetheory addict. No, this is not an ad.) Outside the sky was the type of gray that makes 5 p.m. look like 10 p.m. Sheets of rain became therapeutic white noise.

I knew this would be the last workout at my gym for at least a month, and I found myself not taking a moment for granted. The weather was an ironic reflection of how I felt internally. Without knowing it at the time, I was already resisting the change to come.

The People Side of Change

Humans don’t like change. We’re not used to it, and we often don’t have a backup plan for when things go wrong. When I took courses and studied to become a certified Project Management Professional, I was fascinated to discover there are entire systems and processes for change management.

Believe it or not, we can prepare for worst-case scenarios by developing a change management plan. There are many facets to the plan, but I want to focus on one area that is affecting us all right now: the people side of change.

Have you noticed your emotions going up and down in waves the past few weeks? That’s because change involves emotional impact, resistance and the need to feel motivated – sometimes all at once. The Kübler-Ross model depicts the emotional rollercoaster we’ve all been riding on.

The thing I want you to take away from this?

Allow yourself to go on this emotional journey, and let your family, friends and colleagues go on theirs. Understanding that journey will make you a stronger person and a better resource to others. Some people can progress rather quickly through the curve, and some may even bypass a few emotions. For others, however, it may be a long road.

As PAC and advocacy professionals, it’s important to understand that people won’t accept change if we simply tell them to. But when we take the time to understand their emotions and behaviors, then we can help them move to acceptance.

At the end of this, I’m hopeful there will be renewed energy among our social circles and a better understanding for how others deal with change. I, for one, won’t take for granted the ability to shake a hand and get back into my routine. Until then, a virtual pat on the back will have to suffice. Hang in there, friends.

So, what can you do right now?

Ask yourself:

1. “Who will I reach out to first?” Now is the time to identify that initial group you want to communicate with. Will it be donors, letting them know how their dollars have been spent over the last few months? Or is it more of a priority to connect with previous donors to ask for renewals? There is no right answer – your program’s needs will be different from the next.

2. “How would I want to be communicated with?” If you’re tired of seeing emails that say, “We’re here for you!” then your stakeholders probably are, too. Especially right now, your messaging needs to be transparent and honest. Think about what would motivate you to care and use that as a starting point for your message.

3. “Have I adjusted my goals and shared those with leadership?” Look, fundraising has come to a halt for many of us. You’re not alone. But instead of cussing the last few months, be proactive and adjust your participation and fundraising goals to be realistic given the circumstances. Leadership will appreciate the heads up, and they will want to see metrics.

Kristin Morgan is an Account Lead at Sagac Public Affairs, a national firm providing communications, market research, fundraising and strategic planning solutions to hundreds of political, nonprofit and corporate organizations. As Account Lead, she assists Sagac's clients in implementing successful PAC and issue advocacy campaigns, including strategic planning and execution. Kristin is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

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