Mayes Wilson & Associates

Don’t stop fundraising now!

By Julie Whelan Capell 

In one month, we’ve gone from business as usual, to social distancing measures that have forced most organizations to cancel or postpone the special events, lunches and donor engagement activities essential to meeting end-of-year income goals.

In this situation, it’s tempting to throw previous plans out the window, downsize fundraising staff, cut back on spending, and wait the crisis out.  In the 2008 financial crisis we learned organizations that reduced their fundraising efforts suffered the most.  Organizations that did not stay in touch with their donors, were not transparent, or otherwise failed to communicate why they deserved continued donor support did not survive the downturn.

Take these four actions now to double down on your individual fundraising efforts:

1) Articulate clearly how your organization’s needs have changed due to the pandemic. TIP: Make a list of the ways your organization has been affected by COVID-19.  Have you lost special event or program fee revenue?  Are you having trouble paying the mortgage or rent on your facilities?  Are you serving more people than ever before?

2)  Communicate directly with your current donors, preferably by telephone. Many donors are home and are interested in how organizations they support are doing. TIP: Be sensitive!  Begin by asking how they are doing personally, from a family perspective, and professionally.  Only after checking on them, ask if you can update them on how the situation is affecting your organization. At the end of the call, ask for a special, one-time gift.

3) Make at least five donor calls daily. Engage your staff, committee chairs and board members too, if they have the capacity to participate. TIP: Make a list and work through the list.

4)  Send out a special COVID-related snail mail appeal to all your donors.  It’s tempting to eliminate such labor-intensive activities, but now is the perfect time to get into people’s mailboxes.  We are all home and we have more time to look at our mail.  Some people are actually waiting for the mail to have something to do!

Don’t worry that your donors will see you as being “impolite” for asking for money now.  In the words of fundraising guru Amy Eisenstein, “It’s never impolite to ask for help.”