Lori Hardwick on virus non-profit impact

This month, the Oregon Transformation Newsletter, published a series of interviews with Oregon CEOs about their efforts in the coming months to keep their workforces whole and their companies intact. We plan to publish a series of articles highlighting excerpts from those interviews:

Lori Hardwick, Political Fundraiser

If you are a business owner, how financially capable is your business of surviving this pandemic crisis? What measures have you taken to keep your workforce whole? Do you plan to hire back your staff, or will you be able to keep your workforce relatively whole through the crisis?

My business consists of me and one employee. Our business depends on two things – an election every two years and people having the means and confidence to contribute to candidates and causes they feel passionately about. When the economy does down – like after 9/11 or the 2008-2010 financial crisis – people donate less. Businesses become less engaged in politics. Our job is to find the right candidate and cause and the right timing and amount that people can feel good about supporting. Asking people for money when times are hard isn’t easy – but our democracy requires vigilance.

In the last two decades, Americans have been through 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and now we face this global pandemic. How much worse is this crisis? How are you personally dealing with your own anxiety?

I think this is the worst because it’s both a health and economic crisis. The social distancing also makes life harder – people naturally want to be together in tough times. Now we can’t. I manage my anxiety by being open with my feelings with my husband and kids. We try to laugh about things. I have a lap dog named Oscar who won’t leave my side all day. And I do yoga – even at home while my classes are cancelled. You have to turn off the cable news.

What’s the most surprising response to this crisis that you’ve seen either from friends and family, local and state government, or the federal government? What’s the most disappointing response that you’ve witnessed? What’s the most inspiring response that you’ve noted so far? What is uniquely positive and American about our united response?

After 9/11, plenty of people wondered whether George W. Bush would be up to the job. He proved that he could unite the nation with action, empathy and resolve. We need more of that right now. I miss how President Reagan could inspire hope and optimism in the face of uncertainty and despair. Even humor. We need more of that. State Rep. Cheri Helt and her husband, Steve, own restaurants in Bend. I’ve been inspired by their action and compassion for their employees – trying to help them. I love how Phil Knight stepped up – he loves Oregon so much. Our medical professionals are incredible. The way the teachers and administrators at my kids’ schools – St. John Fisher and Jesuit High School – have stepped up. Very impressive and inspiring. The other night a few of our neighbors gathered in our street – all six feet apart – to share a homemade birthday cake. That makes me smile.

Have you reached out to help friends, family or neighbors? How?

My 86-year-old mom lives in Burns where she sometimes feels isolated even without a pandemic. I call her more often so she doesn’t feel lonely and encourage my kids to Facetime or call her as well. I can’t go visit or stay with her because anyone can be a carrier of the virus, but I do send Amazon to her doorstep to drop off surprise packages.

If you would like to read the entire interview, click on this link at The Oregon Transformation Newsletter: