As we all continue to self-quarantine and socially distance ourselves, how are you adapting to a new normal while working remotely? Do you keep your sanity by going out for fresh air every now and then? Do you participate in virtual yoga sessions or adhere to at-home workouts? Have you picked up a new hobby?
Remote work can be challenging especially for those of us who thrive on human interactions. It’s even more challenging for nonprofit fundraisers who can’t meet with their donors face-to-face and have had to challenge themselves in thinking of new, innovative ways to fundraise.
We recently chatted with a few fundraising pros on how their organizations are navigating the coronavirus with changes in their programming and fundraising. (You can check out the free recording to our webinar here). The coronavirus has certainly thrown a wrench in fundraising plans but we can learn from each other the best ways to move forward.
Here at CauseVox, we want to say thank you and give a big shout out to our participating panelists:
- Jenny Claycombe, Director of Development at Amigos International
- April Hearne, Managing Director of Operations at Amigos International
- Kelly McLaughlin, Director of Marketing and Development at the Old Greenbelt Theatre
- Judith Scott, Chief Operating Officer at Queensway Carleton Hospital
With that, here are the top four insights gleaned from our panel discussion, ‘How Nonprofits Are Navigating The Coronavirus.’
1. Adapt & Create New Programs
Many nonprofits have made the difficult decision to close up shop for the time being. As a result, many organizations have started looking at alternative ways to move their programs and mission forward.
For the Old Greenbelt Theatre, the organization was forced to make the tough choice of closing their facilities so as to not be a site of spread. However, because the organization relies on income from patrons, they’ve had to create a line of programming to draw down revenue in a different way.
By keeping in mind their constituency and what they may be dealing with, the theatre has developed free online programming for entertaining kids at home, curated a number of experimental animations that can be found on YouTube, and implemented a classic movie matinee to support their senior patrons.
The Old Greenbelt Theatre is definitely on the right track. During this time of immense change, it’s critical for nonprofits to pivot their programming to reflect the foreseeable future.
2. Have A Contingency Plan
At a time where the usual galas, breakfasts, runs/races, events, and all your other typical fundraising activities are no longer an option, fundraising can feel overwhelming.
For Amigos International, they’ve had to rethink the way they work.
With planned events canceled and a fall gala up in the air, they’ve shifted from event planning to contingency planning. Like Jenny, the Director of Development, mentioned, “while we can hope that things go back to normal in a few weeks or months, no one can say for sure”.
Amigos International isn’t alone. During this uncertain time, having a plan B is always a smart move.
The best solution is to rapidly adopt a comprehensive digital fundraising strategy.
If you find yourself in the same boat as Amigos, try reimagining your fundraising event to take place virtually. Here’s 14 ideas to get you started.
Not sure where to begin with digital fundraising? Chat with a digital fundraising expert, who can help you transition to digital fundraising with less stress.
3. Engage & Connect With Stakeholders
Just because you can’t physically visit with your stakeholders doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with them in a meaningful way. As Kelly at the Old Greenbelt Theatre puts it, “think about the role your org plays in the community you serve. If your nonprofit had to shutter its doors and your programming has been disrupted, now is the time to have open sharing and honest conversations”.
No one expects you to have all the answers but it’s critical to be transparent. Jenny with Amigos International recommends making a communication plan for stakeholders. To do this, you need to understand who your stakeholders are and prioritize who needs to be communicated with first.
You might want to enlist your top executives to communicate with donors. Donors want to hear a director’s perspective on the coronavirus, as well as his/her plans for moving forward amid tremendous uncertainty.
However you communicate, It’s important to reassure others that your institution is prepared and following precautions. You want to let them know that you’re taking immediate action and are responsive to their needs.
Remember, empathy goes a long way. In a time of crisis, it’s more important than ever to be empathetic to the situation at hand. Use this time to not only communicate with stakeholders about what’s going on at your org but deepen relationships by asking how they’re doing.
4. Don’t Stop Fundraising
Our last bit of advice is to not drop your fundraising altogether. Fundraising you don’t do is guaranteed zero revenue. It’s also a lost opportunity that you can never get back.
“If you face increased program costs and/or drops in revenue, let your donors be heroes and help you get through it. Do fundraising about it. This is one of those moments where you can help your donors really feel good about making a difference when times are hard. But whatever you do, don’t cancel fundraising!”
Here’s two lessons learned when it comes to fundraising during a time of crisis:
- Even during a recession, there were donors capable and wanting to give, so don’t be afraid to have conversations and ask.
- Remember to stay in contact with your stakeholders. Slowly plant the seeds for people to consider gifts, and give them time to make their choice.
Looking for ways to engage donors and boost retention? You can now access our Donor Retention Course ($185 value) for absolutely free. These top insights will help you maintain and cultivate relationships with your community to drive retention, even in tough times.
Bonus Tip: Everyone’s stressed out. Consider hosting a virtual happy hour with your top supporters, and ask them how they’re doing, and give them an update on your organization.
For more resources on navigating the coronavirus, check this out.
Keep Calm And Carry On With Fundraising
This situation is out of your control, but your mission still matters. Think of this time as a creative opportunity to focus on a different fundraising area. You can and should still fundraise and CauseVox allows you to fundraise in a virtually different way.
Remember, we’re all in this together and we’re here with you every step of the way.
To listen to the full webinar recording, click here.
Interested in CauseVox for virtual fundraising? Learn more.