President’s Update: More ways to stay connected

Dear JAWS members,

JAWS President Mira Lowe

I hope you and everyone you care for are staying strong and safe. As we all navigate our new normals during this COVID-19 pandemic, I want you to know that the Board of Directors is thinking of you, and we and staff are working hard to move the organization forward.

Before I give you an update on what we’ve been up to, first some good funding news.

JAWS was among the nonprofits to receive $10,000 in rapid response funding from the Democracy Fund to maintain operational continuity during the coronavirus crisis. We are grateful for their continued support, especially now as we seek to bolster programming and membership services in this unpredictable time. We are also continuing to do our due diligence in terms of contingency and sustainability planning.

Member check-in survey

A few weeks ago, we sent out a survey to see how you were doing and identify ways we could help you. Two main themes emerged. You are concerned for your health and the health of your loved ones and first responders. And you are stressed about your financial well-being and loss of income.

Members are also worried about: burnout; industry collapse/massive layoffs; building sources from a distance; releasing work to a distracted public; juggling family responsibilities while working from home; and adjusting to remote work and online teaching. We are paying close attention to your answers to the question, “How can JAWS be most useful to you right now?” Some of you were very encouraging about the board’s efforts; one respondent said: “Just keep being there!” (We will!) Others asked for more resources for freelancers and independent journalists; suggestions for where to get financial assistance; and ideas for self-care. Overwhelmingly, members want to stay connected — in part through more virtual social hours.

We’ve been working on delivering what you asked for:

  • Mark your calendar: Virtual social hours will be held May 7, May 12, June 9 and June 18, with breakout conversations on Self Care & Family Dynamics, Inspiration Hour and Continuing Your Story. Register for the May 7 social hour here and the May 12 social hour here.
  • Check out JAWS’ self-care resource guide for journalists.
  • We regularly share information related to job postings and financial support opportunities on social media, including our Facebook job board.
  • And be on the lookout for future webinars on managing stress, anxiety, and money.

Committee and programming updates

All of our committees have been busy. In particular, the fundraising, CAMP, communications, and membership committees have been planning and implementing strategies to strengthen JAWS’ finances, consider options for CAMP, grow and welcome our membership, and better communicate across platforms. Here are their updates:

Communications and membership

  • The communications committee is testing a new membership communication platform that will allow for ways to communicate and engage with one another in a safe and secure environment on Expect to see that rollout in mid to late May 2020.
  • The membership committee is finalizing plans for a membership campaign, which will include incentives for new and lapsed members and help for those who’ve lost jobs during the pandemic. This month, I’ll hold our quarterly JAWS Member Dialogue call on May 20 at 6:30 p.m. ET. Register for the dialogue here.

Fundraising and CAMP

  • The fundraising committee is currently calling last year’s donors to thank them for supporting JAWS; preparing a short and sweet Mother’s Day fundraising campaign to honor our mothers, foremothers, and others; and planning outreach to potential sponsors who might underwrite webinars and CAMP.
  • While CAMP 2020 in December is still months away, given the uncertainty about the coronavirus and future social distancing, the CAMP committee is already thinking about various options for our annual gathering. More from this team in the weeks ahead.

As always we invite you to reach out to us with your questions, suggestions, observations, and needs. We are here for you. Thanks for helping each other and supporting JAWS through this very challenging moment. Let’s keep the faith and stay positive. We will get through this together.