Despite Covid, there was a lot to celebrate in 2020!
If I had a dollar for every person who said something to me along the lines of “Good riddance to 2020!” my personal wealth would rival that of Bill Gates.
There was a lot of sickness, loss, sadness, and stress that affected many of us in profound ways.
It wasn’t a bed of roses.
Not by a long-shot.
Still, many terrific things happened during the pandemic, and I think they’re worth celebrating as we usher out 2020.
Here’s my list of the top twelve:
Democracy worked in America! Record numbers of us voted and did so without having to endure painfully long-lines, malfunctioning equipment, or violent protesters. More Americans felt passionate about the direction of our government and political leaders, and that’s a good thing.
Being isolated in our homes gave many of us the chance to observe and think deeply about the need to address systemic racism in America. As a result, millions of people got engaged, millions of dollars from individuals and foundations were contributed to racial justice organizations, offensive statues were removed from public places, and laws addressing police reform were passed in cities and states across the country ranging from Florida to Texas to Connecticut to Minnesota to California and everywhere in between. None of this is a solution, but it is a start.
Nonprofits of all types – particularly those on the front lines of delivering emergency services –showed they could rise to the occasion. Food Banks are the sad heroes of this story. Feeding America reports “From the beginning of March through the end of October, food banks nationwide distributed an estimated 4.2 billion meals to our neighbors facing hunger in the United States.”
Many donor-advised fund holders realized that this was THE “rainy day,” and opened their wallets in a major way. “National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the nation’s largest independent DAF sponsor, reported a record $2.11 billion in donor-recommended grants for the fiscal year ending June 30 – represent[ing] a 54-percent increase from…the previous fiscal year.”
Zoom brought us closer together. It enabled us to connect with far-flung family and friends, allowed performance artists a forum for showcasing their work, and enabled all kinds of other work to continue with relatively few glitches.
We finally cleared the clutter out of our homes.
Many of us who were lucky enough to be employed saved more money than before. “Since April, consumer savings have increased, credit scores have surged to a record high and household debt has dropped.”
People discovered new ways of celebrating life passages – from virtual Bat Mitzvah’s to “Congratulations Graduate!” lawn signs to drive-by car-honking birthday parties and baby showers to Zoom weddings to Thanksgiving dinners. It wasn’t ideal, but we were still joyful.
Almost everyone discovered at least one great Netflix show.
We reached out to neighbors to offer help with things like grocery shopping and called long-lost friends to catch up after so many years.
We learned wonderful new things about our family that made us love them even more.
Finally, most of us stopped taking our physical and mental health for granted. We found gratitude in our ability to take a deep breath. We learned the proper way to wash our hands. We cooked more at home and ate better quality food.
And, yeah, scientists discovered multiple vaccines that appear to work!
2020 was a year that will go down in history books. We survived and thrived in many ways.
As we move into 2021 – which hopefully will usher in a new era of normalcy – we have the opportunity to cherish and rediscover our lost freedoms – to travel, to interact in person with friends, to meet in groups, to hang out in a bar or restaurant, to see a movie, concert, or play, and to perhaps walk around without a mask among so many other things that we will no longer take for granted.
As Green Day would sing “Good Riddance (Time of your life)"
Wishing you all the best in 2021!
Pat Libby is a consultant that helps nonprofits with organizational strategy, board restructuring, and executive searches. Pat has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations.
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