JUN 01, 2020
Whether your nonprofit is experiencing fundraising challenges related to COVID-19, an economic recession, or weathering some other storm, it’s more important than ever for your donors to understand how the mission and work of your nonprofit are continuing.
Below is a list of ten ways you can strengthen your fundraising in challenging times:
- Position the donor as the hero in all your fundraising communications. Position your nonprofit as the guide who provides the hero with the tools and knowledge to win the day.
- Always empathize with the donor. It’s necessary for nonprofits first to acknowledge the hardships that people are experiencing — including donors before getting into your pitch. Always be sure to remind your donors that you are here for them.
- Personally, thank your donors. No one likes being taken for granted or feeling like their contribution was a mere transaction. Go out of your way to express gratitude. According to both the research (yes, this has been studied!) and common sense, personalized engagement is especially critical during hard times. Consider holding a Thank – a -Thon. Get a group of volunteers to call donors and just say thank you. The key is to have thoughtful engagement in which you are not asking for a donation.
- Thank your government funders, foundations, and key stakeholders. You’d be amazed by how many never get a thank you. Update them on progress, critical needs, and share “raw” content from the field.
- Have staff and beneficiaries write thank you notes or make short videos about the impact of your donor’s gift. If they are on social media, make a short video thanking them and telling them how their donation helped. It makes it more personal than a signed form letter from the Executive Director or Development Director.
- Have board members make thank you calls to donors. Your board members will love the feedback, and donors will appreciate the call. Provide them a script. Voice mail is just as effective as connecting.
- Transition to virtual fundraising. During COVID-19, many nonprofits have had to cancel their major in-person events and galas. In their place, they have had to hold virtual fundraisers that entertain and engage donors such as virtual galas, silent auctions, etc. Be sure to carefully track your donor campaigns’ progress and adapt so you can make informed decisions along the way.
- Retell your nonprofit’s story about why the founder started it in a way that makes an emotional connection (instead of meaningless details like year, etc.) with your donors consistent with your mission and how it’s changed the lives of your beneficiaries. Be sure to include a compelling call to action!
- Focus on outcomes and impact. During a crisis and in periods of transition, people seek out opportunities to make a difference right away. Be sure to be crystal clear on how they can help and what critical impact they can make.
- Emphasize the urgency of what you need and the stakes. Your beneficiaries depend on your nonprofit’s outreach and leadership — probably more than ever during a crisis. Be clear about what you need and the stakes and what a $1000, $5000, $10,000, etc. donation will mean to those you serve.