Fundraising during a Pandemic

Posted: May 20th 2020

As a fundraiser right now you might be asking yourself how to even move forward in a time like this. It’s difficult enough to raise money for everything we want to do on a regular basis – and now with a crisis like COVID-19 – how do we move forward to help our mission?

Based on feedback from local nonprofits as well as observations from the field we have compiled a list of things you can get started on. Hopefully these are things that you can do right now to help move your organization forward:

    1. Get on the phone – This is when we go back to the grassroots of fundraising and donor stewardship. While many of us don’t have (or make) time normally to reach out and just talk to our donors, now is the perfect time. Most of our donors are in the same place we all are: at home. They will welcome a phone call from you to check in and genuinely see how they’re doing! Let them know how COVID-19 has impacted your organization thus far. Let them know how your programs are doing. Let them know how YOU are doing. Now is the time to either strengthen old relationships or start new ones, without an ask attached. And if there’s one thing we know to be true, everyone loves to give their opinion. Ask your donors what they think you should be doing – not just right now, but in the future. And don’t forget to thank them!
    2. Plan to diversify – What we know from experiences like these is that many of our organizations put most of our eggs in one or two baskets without looking at how we can diversify our revenue. Whether that be relying more on grant funding and not having much earned income, or emphasizing those big special events and spending less time cultivating donor relationships – each bucket of funding should ideally have the appropriate amount of focus. Now is a time to evaluate where you, as a fundraiser, spend your time and refocus if need be. For instance, we know that many fundraisers spend much of their time on fundraising events where you may not net as much revenue as you would spending more time on planned gifts. Making sure that you have a balanced approach for your organization is critical. You may not be able to create new streams of revenue right now – but you can use this time to start planning for it.
    3. Tell your stories – Now is the time to push the gas pedal on telling your stories of impact! Whether you are at a healthcare related organization or an arts nonprofit, each of you have an important and critical story to tell of the work that you do in the community. Focus on telling individual stories of impact whether that be through blogs, videos or with photos on your social media. Use this as a chance to be creative and find ways to connect with your audiences that is simple and meaningful. Remember not to bombard inboxes which are already being overloaded with COVID-19 information.
    4. Increase (or start) your planned giving – A handful of older donors have admitted that this crisis in particular has made them reevaluate their will and estate plans to ensure that their legacy is in order. When your donors do this, you want to make sure that you are top of mind. If you haven’t started targeted planned giving in your communications or with your donors, now is the time. If you have an endowment with the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne we have a planned giving toolkit that will be available soon to help you get started.

These action items are just a few of the things to keep in mind during this time of COVID-19. We hope that this gives you some concrete guidance around fundraising in this uncertain time.

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