We launched season 2 with the intention of bringing forward important stories from the pandemic. What we ended up finding were stories that offer lessons beyond these trying times, especially as we navigate into a brighter future. In this episode, Accelerant host Saranda West highlights some key lessons from previous episodes, and outlines important and inspiring data about the recovery of nonprofit organizations around the country.

Podcast Transcription

Saranda West: Hey Accelerant! Your host Saranda West here. I want to start by thanking you all for joining in a wonderful season. The goal of Accelerant Season 2 was to shed light on the work of nonprofits throughout the pandemic. I knew we would discover inspiring stories about heartfelt dedication and service and just showcase the amazing work that you all have done to uplift your communities. This is the namesake of The Accelerant! Your work continues to light the match of inspiration and bring light to your communities each and every day. I see it every day. So no surprise there, but despite my expectations, I did not expect to find stories this season that hold intense meaning beyond the confines of the pandemic. Even as we’re inching closer and closer to a more open world, these conversations carry a lot of weight in my heart. This is because they are attached to lessons I have learned about myself and about our world throughout many challenging and often dark moments in the past year.

Now for those of you that may be picking up The Accelerant with this episode, 1) you have missed out, but good news, you can go back and listen! To give you an idea, this season of Accelerant is a catalogue of stories that invites new exploration and holds not only nostalgic value, but relevant value to the new challenges we’re facing as we navigate this ever-changing world.  

Maybe in the past year, you have been inspired to increase your efficiency, embrace technology, and say goodbye to paper filing cabinets. So go back and listen to my conversation with Natalie Johnson:  

Natalie Johnson: The thing that was in my mind then and remains now is how can we pull some of these repetitive tasks off of our directors which want to be in front of people. Get some of that work off of their plate so that they can serve the mission at a greater capacity, whether it’s teaching swim lessons, engaging in youth sports coaches or whatever that looks like. But really finding ways to make jobs for our program directors, uh, more streamlined and effective.

SW: Or maybe you want to think deeper about your organization’s story and how to share more and more meaningful experiences with your community. Let’s be honest. We all need to do this. So I would say you need to listen to my conversation with Jeff Saunders:

Jeff Saunders: Well, we are wanting to give ourselves a lot of grace because it has been a really, really rough year for America in a lot of ways. And so give yourself that grace, but it’s time for us to get off the couch. It’s time for us to not be stuck. And really we’re at the point where there’s no more excuses. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not shouting at you I’m looking in a mirror right now. Like it’s time for us to get going. And what better organization than the Y, Daxko, I know you’ve got partners with JCC, you know, all these people that are here to help people and for us to take this and get off the couch and lead America to a better place.  

SW: Or, like so many of us, you have become convicted and unraveling systemic issues of race and marginalization in our country and what your organization to build better diversity, equity and inclusion throughout your community, in which case I highly encourage you to listen to my conversation with Michael Farris:  

Michael Farris: What the Y can we do to help address some of those more systemic things because we recognize it was all part of a larger systemic issue. Whether it be education, healthcare, criminal justice, that the Y can play a critical role in not necessarily leading at all times, but convening conversation in partnerships. So that’s what it’s been a lot of driving and convening conversation around what can be our impact on a larger systemic level, because we know that our programs are phenomenal and great. However, we also challenge ourselves to not just band-aid a symptom, but really unpack and try to work towards fixing the systems that create the need for those programs.

SW: This list goes on and on. Each episode holds golden nuggets and are intended to be carried as guideposts and points of inspiration in your work going forward. From navigating data and insights, to redesign the entire gym floor, and boosting fundraising efforts, I guarantee you season two of Accelerant has something for everyone.

I also need to say, I am deeply inspired by your work. The work I have seen in your organizations throughout the pandemic has just floored me time and time again. So I want to end the season with important data and insights that will showcase the work you’ve done and provide hope for a brighter future and hopefully ease some of the weight you’ve been carrying in the pandemic. And I’m just going to say, you deserve a break. We all deserve a break. So hopefully this helps. If you’ve listened to any episode this season, you know we kept an eye on emerging trends of associations that use Dexcom operations. We are not only seeing a decrease in cancellations and holds, we’re seeing rejoins and renewals. Actually, cancellations are 46% lower right now than they were in 2019, not 2020-2019.!Also 49% of members who canceled their membership at some point during COVID have since returned. We’re going to keep a close eye on these trends following the recent CDC announcement last week regarding new guidelines and restrictions for vaccinated individuals. In the meantime, another encouraging finding is that 16% of membership joins during the same timeframe are brand new members. Brand new members! This means they have chosen you! People are choosing organizations like yours to support their wellness goals. And as we have discussed this season overall wellness, whether that’s mental or physical or spiritual, you are there to help them in this area. And they need us now more than ever. And there are other others like them, people who have maybe never set foot in your facility now have the opportunity to see your associations mission and work in the community. And they want to be invovled.  

We’re on the precipice of major changes. But unlike the last time we felt a big shift, these changes are opening our world, opening our lives. Again, this acceleration toward a brighter future is exciting and beautiful to witness. And I will speak for myself that The Accelerant, these episodes and conversations, provide a foundation for me to build upon the lessons from the past year and move into the future with reverence for the challenges we have all faced. I’m so grateful to you and your work and cannot wait to share Season 3 of The Accelerant. In the meantime, stay healthy, safe, and continue to be the accelerant in your communities. Inspiring growth and compassion and acceleration toward a better tomorrow.