Nonprofits should adopt a thoughtful, agile fundraising strategy to align with their donors during the pandemic.
Research on nonprofit performance in the aftermath of a crisis has indicated it’s imperative to keep fundraising efforts active – pausing will only make it more difficult to recover financially. There is bound to be reluctance from donors during times of economic and societal uncertainty, but the fact that there are fewer dollars available to be raised makes it all the more important to compete for them.
In fact, many donors will recognize that the crisis requires more from them — both to offset lost revenue and increase capabilities when the community is especially vulnerable.
One way to gauge your donor community is to poll some of them. A few calls to donors at various levels of giving will give you a good idea of where to focus your efforts, both in the short term and beyond. You’ll learn a lot about how donors are feeling about your organization and its mission, and where you fall in their list of financial priorities. Your supporters may be the best source of ideas to help refocus your fundraising efforts.
For major donors, a personal check-in lets them know that you are thinking about them and that you value their support. You can continue to stay meaningfully connected in this way, at a distance.
Indeed, by focusing on enhanced donor stewardship, you’ll encourage deeper engagement overall, which can help you recover more quickly. What does this look like: more social media posts to raise visibility; more reporting on how support has impacted your mission; more outreach overall.
Many nonprofit organizations hold large annual fundraising events that account for a large portion of their budgets. Obviously, safety concerns about large gatherings will affect events moving into the next gala season.
Should you continue, reschedule, cancel, or retool? Many factors go into this decision, including the date of the event, its size, and complexity, as well as your ability to reschedule given your usual calendar. However, deciding early will give you more options.
Some organizations have moved their events online or taken a virtual approach. While it’s too early to tell how effective these types of fundraising events are, they are appreciated by donor communities at least in terms of effort. They may also teach good lessons for the future in terms of return on big event organizing and expense. Maybe there are different ways to approach events—a blend of online and in-person activity may suit your organization well.
Show the Love
It’s critically important that your communications reflect the seriousness of the situation and take an empathetic tone. Going the extra mile to acknowledge the effects of the crisis on your audience and thank them for their support will pay off in the immediate and long terms.
What will the nonprofit fundraising landscape look like once the crisis has passed? Nobody can know for sure, but the strategies and tactics that worked in the past haven’t suddenly become obsolete. Compassion and honesty in your donor relations will bolster your prospects now and when the crisis subsides.
Contact Dembo Jones to discuss how our nonprofit team can lend insight and experience to your fundraising efforts.