There is a lot of good information out there about fundraising during the coronavirus. White papers. Blog posts. Webinars. As I’ve looked through them over the past 10 days, I didn’t feel like I had anything to add, so I’ve limited my advice to those asking for it. But, today as I was prepping for a call with someone who did want my input, I realized that the notes I was jotting down would make a pretty good blog post…So, here you go.
- Fundraising is not about money. It’s about people — the people you serve and the people whose support helps you do that. Your job is to stay in touch with the second group and let them know how you are continuing to serve the first group. Nothing about the current crisis changes that job description.
- Fundraising is emotional. By all means, tell your donors what you are doing to respond to coronavirus, but do it by focusing on your mission. Facts and figures do not stir people to action; stories about the people you serve – and how donors can help them – will.
- Your best prospects in this time of crisis are the same as they were three weeks ago: the supporters who care deeply about your mission because it aligns with their own priorities. Focus on them.
- Now is not the time for perfection. If you spend your days trying to get your strategy and language just right instead of reaching out to your donors, you need to review point #1 again. This is about engaging people. It is more important that they hear from you than that you have all the details ironed out. You can always reach out to them again to provide updates. Having a reason to follow up is never a bad thing.
- Don’t forget about stewardship! Thank donors immediately for stepping up to help in this turbulent time and then keep them updated on how their gift is making a difference for the people you serve. Develop a plan to thank these donors in person when we no longer have to practice social distancing.
- Finally, trust your instincts. You know your organization and your donors better than any expert (including me). You know who you need to talk to and what they need to hear. You know who you can solicit directly and who needs some time. Most importantly, you know you cannot stop doing your job because your mission cannot be quarantined, even during a pandemic.
So…take a deep breath, remember why you do this, and pick up the phone and call your donors.