Confusion, Chaos, Fear, and Uncertainty — What’s a Fundraiser to Do?
What a week! Toilet paper shortages, social distancing, event cancellations, endless hand washing, changing work environments, with everything moving so quickly, it’s hard to know what to do.
We have put together some thoughts on what you can do as a fundraiser during this pandemic crisis. But, by no means are we medical experts. Please pay attention to current CDC recommendations, as well as your local government restrictions.
- Take care of yourself and your staff first. Be vigilant in your hand-washing, sanitation efforts and social distancing. Go to the doctor if you have any symptoms. You know the drill. Your well being is very important to us.
- Acknowledge it’s not business as usual. Let your donors know how your business hours, service delivery and protocols have changed. Transparency is essential to instill trust.
- Stay true to your mission. Take the time to reexamine what sets you apart from other organizations and highlight that in your communications. Donors don’t want to know that your fundraising may be suffering, they want to see what you are doing to help the community. What are your organization’s unique convictions and how are you implementing them day-to-day? Be sure to share the impact you are making.
- Keep the conversations going. Take advantage of this time to make donor phone calls. Acknowledge donor fears, listen to them and if you are so inclined (and it’s part of your mission), pray with them. Care about your donors as people first let them know they are more than an ATM. Focus on relationship building and find out what is important to your donors.
- Prepare for the long haul. The virus is scary, but the sudden changes in our economy may have long-lasting side effects. Our most vulnerable citizens — those who are living just one missed paycheck away from hunger or homelessness, the elderly, and the uninsured — are already starting to feel it. As more events are canceled and businesses close, people are losing their livelihoods, facing evictions and hunger. The need for your services is even greater.Now is the time for some creative thinking. What has been the fastest-growing fundraising trend over the past few years?
Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs).Consider this, it is estimated that 121.42 Billion Dollars in DAF assets are available for grants. What if you did a little research to find out who in your database currently has a DAF? And what if you took the time now to send them a personal thank you? Then, when the time is right and you have the appropriate case for support, you ask for an additional grant. Do you think they will be more receptive to your new ask if they have thanked and appreciated amply?
- Be Nimble. Your preplanned communications may need to pivot, but don’t go dark. If you haven’t already, we recommend:
- Keeping your website up-to-date with the most recent information on the outbreak
- Utilize digital media and social media to show supporters what you are doing to meet the needs of the community
- Ensure everyone on the team knows what to say. Equip them with talking points, so if, or more likely, when asked, they understand how to respond.
- Don’t Forget – Your Donors Love You. It’s essential to remember donors may alter when and how they give, but they don’t stop caring about your mission. However, it is up to you to ensure you are communicating with them regularly to keep them engaged.