Amidst the country’s ongoing shelter-at-home restrictions, the economy remains in flux, and everything seems very unsure and unstable. It’s hard to watch the evening news without feeling your stomach tighten. You may be feeling like life has gone from a sprint, to a marathon, to a double marathon. And you’re probably working harder than ever just to keep things afloat.
But not all is doom and gloom. In fact, there’s research to show that global catastrophes actually cause charitable giving to increase. People like to band together and help others. The late Jerry Panas explained it perfectly:
"It's a puzzling phenomenon. It may seem counterintuitive, but in tough financial times people actually give more. But they give to organizations they care about. Those organizations that have done an outstanding job of thanking them properly and often, and where they feel their gift has been celebrated and used effectively."
Jerry wrote this during the 2008 financial crisis, yet it applies today.
One thing that is sure is that your donors support your organization. Why? In the first place, your mission and vision are aligned with their values. They want to make a difference, and your organization is enabling them to do so. As a result, they care about your organization. They’ve also helped you before, and those who are able to really want to continue to help now.
Maybe you are wondering what you can do right now to help your organization continue in its mission. Given that we’re in Week 7 of the shutdown, consider these 7 simple suggestions:
1. Review your fundraising goals and objectives to make sure they’re still relevant. Every plan starts with goals for what you want to achieve. Objectives are measurable accomplishments that help you reach those goals. Without goals and objectives, you may keep busy with activities … but you won’t know what you’re trying to achieve or whether you’re succeeding.
2. Pick up the phone. One thing you can do right now is call your donors and check in. Don’t ask for a gift — just ask how they’re doing. Your donors will appreciate the call. Your goal is to build a relationship with your donors, and a human connection accomplishes that. If you’re not sure what to say, check out Pamela Grow’s helpful call script.
3. Step up your messaging and communications. Remember the expression, “out of sight, out of mind”? Donors and supporters need to know you’re still around. So stay in touch, whether by email or newsletter, and keep communicating about what’s happening at your organization. Be sure to mention the impact made by donors’ gifts in each of these touchpoints.
4. Invite your donors to a virtual free event. You could set up a Facebook Live interview with interesting VIPs such as the cardinal in your diocese or the president of your organization. Or organize a “virtual field trip,” such as a stroll around your grounds or a look behind the scenes at your church.
5. Use the opportunity to remind folks of the impact of this pandemic on your organization. This is solid advice from Claire Axelrad of Clairification. She recommends thanking donors for the outpouring of generosity you’ve been receiving, and reassuring them that, with their support, you’ll still be here post-pandemic.
6. Start a legacy giving program, if your organization does not have one. In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s only natural for each of us to reflect more on our lives, work, and legacies. Pamela Grow says, “Without a focused planned giving program in place, you’re depriving your donors of the opportunity to leave a legacy… to know that their life made a difference.”
7. Try a mini-campaign to raise $100K in major gifts. Amy Eisenstein is working with her colleagues at the Capital Campaign Toolkit to create a new way to help you raise a lot of emergency funding in a short amount of time – $100,000+ Mini-Campaign. A mini-campaign applies the timeless best practices of traditional capital campaign fundraising, with everything scaled down into timely, actionable steps.
As we try to prevail during the pandemic, let us find hope, encouragement and challenge in these words from Fr. Henri Nouwen: “Whether people have much or little is not as important as the possibility of making their money available to God. God’s kingdom is the place of abundance where every generous act overflows its original bounds and becomes part of the unbounded grace of God at work in the world.”
What other mission-driven practices are you employing right now?
This article was originally published on Bloomerang’s blog on May 19, 2020.