These are certainly strange days. People are sheltering in place and taking a much closer look at their finances in case of sickness and emergency. It just doesn't seem like the right time for business-as-usual nonprofit fundraising — and it probably isn't. But not so fast, says Ben Miller, chief analytic officer of DonorTrends and secretary of the Growth in Giving Initiative, a program of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). If we look at what happened during the Great Recession, giving to nonprofits remained steady, with only slight declines over the entire period.
His insights are in the recent AFP article Charitable Giving in Times of Fear and Uncertainty. Miller concludes, "When the current crisis ends, history will show that the most successful nonprofits continued to ask for donations, although likely in a different way. Those nonprofits who go 'silent' or attempt to give their donors a break will likely see the same results as others before them — and suffer or even go out of business as a result."
Very intriguing, no? Well then, how should we fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here is our roundup of ideas.
The AFP Resource Guide
The AFP COVID-19 Resource Guide covers a variety of topics, but they're mostly on fundraising. Here's a sample:
- Amy Eisenstein's How to Manage Your Fundraising During the Coronavirus Crisis
- Breakthrough Fundraising Group's How to (Quickly) Mobilize Volunteers to Maximize Nonprofit Fundraising During COVID-19
- Donor Relations Guru's What You Can Do for Your Donors and Others in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 Edition
- Hilborn Charity eNews' Your Unexpected Coronavirus Opportunity
- Network for Good's Coronavirus Impacting Your Nonprofit? Here's What to Do
- LinkedIn's Fundraising from Home and also NP Engage's 10 Things Fundraisers Can Do from Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Chronicle of Philanthropy's 4 Ways to Engage Major Donors During the Covid-19 Crisis (requires a free sign-up)
This last article features something that many COVID articles advise: that fundraisers reach out first to show their donors that they care about their well-being. These initial interactions may help you continue to build your relationship during what may be a significant disruption in your donors' lives.
#NPCOVID19 from Beth Kanter and Others
We love this great resource list. It's a Google Doc crowdsourced by Beth Kanter and 19 other people including TechSoup's Susan Tenby. So far it has 14 fundraising entries, and the #NPCOVID19 group invites you to add more! Here's a few entries:
- Coronavirus and Fundraising: What to Expect and How to Prepare by Gail Perry — some major donor advice
- Coronavirus and Fundraising: Our Experts Weigh In via Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt
- Free guide to nonprofit crisis communications by Ben Delaney
CauseVox's How Nonprofits Can Navigate The Coronavirus is a more modest list of fundraising tips, but it has some great suggestions.
- Ensure that you have a good donation page up and running.
- Try a peer-to-peer campaign to have supporters set up pages to fundraise on your nonprofit's behalf.
- This is not on the CauseVox list, but maybe also have a look at Shay Lessman's Tips for Hosting a Virtual Peer-to-Peer Event.
And a Few More
Here are some additional articles that might be helpful.
- Coronavirus Pandemic and Fundraising (PDF) by Roger Craver at The Agitator
- Avoid the 3 Biggest Mistakes of Fundraising in a Recession by Marc Pitman
- 8 Steps for Successful Fundraising During the Coronavirus Crisis by Amy Eisenstein
- Free Resources for Creating a Coronavirus Appeal by Mark Philllips
- Virtual Fundraising Ideas That Work from SoapBox Engage
- Fundraising During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Danielle Keats Berkowitz
Here is some of Berkowitz's sage advice: "Now is the time to try new things. Make that video you always wanted to but never had the time to dedicate to it. Learn a new social media platform. Test out those ideas you were not sure of in the past and see if they would work now.
"Talk with your Board of Directors and active donors/volunteers. They know/understand their counterparts and will have insights as to how they would like to be engaged during this time."
Additional Resources from TechSoup
- GrantStation is a web-based service for nonprofit organizations, charities, and public libraries with profiles on current grantmakers and step-by-step tutorials on how to secure available funding.
- Pivoting to Remote Work — a free COVID-19 response course track for nonprofits.
- Microsoft Teams for Nonprofits free courses — learn to set up and run live events and participate in online conversations.
- Fundraising Software Seminar Series — this is a four-part series that will give you simple, actionable steps to finding the best fundraising software for your organization.
- Intro to Communication for Fundraising — a three-part course series.
- TechSoup's Digital Marketing Consultation — this service can help identify ways to take your fundraising online.