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Fundraising in Uncertain Times

Uncertainty SignThe year 2020 has begun with some uncertainties impacting how we work, relax and spend our resources. The outbreak of the new coronavirus has led companies to restrict travel, individuals who had traveled to be quarantined and others to practice social distancing. The virus also has its ripple effects on the economy, impacting trade, the ability to access goods and services, and the hospitality industry, all of which has led to the stock market slide. Nonprofit organizations also wonder how to fundraise in uncertain times. Before you hit the pause button on your fundraising efforts, carefully consider your development activities and if the current state of the world will have an impact.

  1. Assess your events. Is your population at risk at your activity? Develop contingency plans that ease participants’ minds to participate, such as providing additional sanitation stations. If the event is scheduled to take place in the fall, ramp up your planning now and conduct business as usual in terms of marketing, soliciting sponsors and recruiting participants. After assessment you may feel the best decision is to cancel or postpone the event or look to replace it with other fundraising activities.
  2. Consider increasing direct mail efforts. Whether it’s replacing an event with a fundraising appeal or adding a new appeal or two to your fundraising calendar, this will help share your story, needs and how the current state of affairs has impacted your organization.
  3. Implement or enhance a monthly giving program. Monthly giving programs keep donors engaged in your organization while regularly supporting operations and program needs.
  4. Enhance communication with your target audiences, whether it’s through a mailed or electronic newsletter, social media engagements, or special letters and email updates from the “Director’s Desk.” Keep donors informed while also providing easy access to donate online or by mail, if they wish.
  5. Connect with your audiences virtually. Set up town hall meetings, conferences or events that people can engage with online from home or workplace.
  6. Initiate one-on-one conversations with your donors and prospects, either in person, over the phone or video conference. This can be valuable time spent getting to know them and building relationships with your donors or engaging new prospects to your organization.
  7. Be flexible with how donors may make a gift and consider offering or extending pledge periods. Some donors may be reluctant to support your campaign or cause due to the downturn of the stock market, but knowing they can support your needs over a longer period of time may make a major gift commitment more palatable.