• Columns Fundraising

Facing Coronavirus Together

Whether you are a board member, executive director, staff member, or volunteer

at a nonprofit organization, you know that your work must go on regardless of the

challenges brought on by COVID-19. Two of the obvious hurdles we in the

non-profit world face because of this virus are:

  1. Physical - we rely heavily on personal interaction to develop donor relationships and, in many cases, to carry out our mission of serving others. The prospect of “social isolation” to combat the spread of the virus will decrease our opportunities for face-to-face interaction with donors and prospects, and with those who need our services.

  2. Fiscal – economic uncertainty can make fundraising more challenging. The “wealth effect” that people feel in a generally rising stock market dissipates when stocks dip into bear market territory. People who felt a month ago that they were in great shape are now feeling unsteady and may be less inclined to consider charitable requests.

Some charities will be impacted physically more than others by the virus – theaters, museums, and other organizations that bring large groups of people together may be more impacted than, say, a charity that provides scholarships – but each organization will use their best efforts to determine how to carry on their work while protecting the health and safety of volunteers, staff and those who benefit from their work.

On the fiscal side, we have suggestions for how to fundraise in an environment of uncertainty:

  1. Be proactive. Pick up the phone and call your top donors and prospects - yes, that includes foundations, if you are a grant recipient. Ask them how they are and what their concerns are. Tell them how you are carrying on your organization’s mission. Remember - if your organization has “competitors” for the same donors, your “competitors” may only be using social media, email or direct mail channels. People need to hear real voices now, someone asking how they feel.

  2. Keep them updated. At the same time, plan and prepare a series of frequent updates for your donors (and other constituents) to distribute via social media posts, email blasts, podcasts, and regular mail. Update your website landing page to show in pictures and in text how your organization’s work goes on. There’s no need to make it appear as if you aren’t impacted by COVID-19 … be candid about your challenges and you might find supporters willing to assist.

Our team worked through the stock market crash of 1987, the Swine Flu scare, the Ebola virus scare, and we ran campaigns during the 2008-2009 recession, and if our experience has taught us one thing, it's this: This, too, shall pass.

If you are in need of help, reach us by email at help@columnsfundraising.com, or give us a call at 770-332-4881. We’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you press on.

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