Fundraising in the Midst of a Crisis

We recognize this is a unique and uncertain time for fundraising, especially as large events are canceled and social interactions are discouraged. It is difficult to know the next best step in this interim, new normal. 

Fundraising goes beyond asking for donations, it is also about cultivating and maintaining relationships. 

Communication is key to keeping all parties engaged in your important mission. Now is a good time to continue to build trust with your board, your donors and the community during this period of crisis.  

  • Be proactive and offer a sincere note of gratitude for any gift.
  • Incorporate a special low-cost or no-cost VIP surprise for supporters who continue their monthly pledges or for those who choose to donate their tickets.
  • Encourage board members and your organization’s team members to reach out to donors with whom they have influence virtually or via phone calls.
  • Practice stewardship by thanking all past donors for their support and display how their donation impacted the organization.
  • Consider hosting virtual fundraising events, watch parties or small, web-based focus groups.
  • Share your special insights and distinctive mission with others through virtual behind-the-scene tours, virtual lessons or free webinars to learn a new skill.
  • Still be social at a distance on social media and continue to share your stories.
  • Review emergency plans and determine what new priorities need to be set for your organization.
  • Remember to continue to open lines of communication; it is more difficult to re-start conversations.

In addition, we asked a few of our past panelists from our 2019 Impacting Nonprofits: Investing for Progress workshop to chime in on the topic. 

Lisa Fox, Fox Creek Fundraising Founder and President, “There may be challenges in securing funding for agencies that are not providing COVID-19 related services, as focus shifts to providing emergency response financial support. If a nonprofit faces this barrier, there may be options such as 1) requesting previously awarded programming dollars to be shifted to unrestricted operating dollars; 2) showing the need for support during COVID-19 by moving any loss in earned revenue to a foundation revenue line item, reflecting the need for increased private foundation support to off-set the loss in earned revenue; 3) move fundraisers online; 4) check in with your donors; and 5) create a new annual giving campaign strategy that could lead to increased revenue.”

Judy Davis, Community Member and Fundraising Extraordinaire, “Communication during this unprecedented time to your board, volunteers, donors and the folks you serve is key. Communication should be carefully thought-out and will require a high level of tact. Nonprofit organizations need to continue to demonstrate relevance so support dollars continue to flow both during and post COVID-19. A communication that shares an overview of your organization's impact stating program services and folks served will help keep your folks engaged.”

As discussed at the Impacting Nonprofits: Investing for Progress workshop, long-term sustainability is key for successful nonprofits paired with intentional donor relationships, engaged board members, and strategy that drills down to your mission. The time to lean in is now. Evaluate your strategic plans, revise budgets and capture your mission moments. Your important work will matter both now and post COVID-19. 

As always, please reach out if there is any way we can serve you. We hope you, your families, and our communities are all safe and healthy during this time. Check out our COVID-19 Nonprofit Resources here.


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Topics: Community