With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, donor relationships for many nonprofit organizations have come to a screeching halt, while nonprofits scramble to figure out how to fundraise in a digital world. Whether your organization is focused on meeting immediate needs, such as food, housing, and healthcare, or focused on serving the public through education, advocacy, or the arts, nonprofits are essential to ensuring that our communities have access to the resources they need. Fundraising during these unprecedented times presents new challenges, but now is the time to press forward with your donors to ensure that your mission can continue. Here are five ways to stay engaged with your donors during this time.
1 – The trusted phone call
A tried and true tool of the fundraiser, now, more than ever, a phone call might be the best way to check in with your donors.Take the opportunity to give your top and mid-level donors a call. Ask about their families, their health, and the challenges they are facing. Share some details about how you are coping. Be prepared with 1-2 sentences about how your organization is faring. If your organization has an immediate fundraising need as a result of COVID-19, don’t be afraid to share that with the donor. Now might not be the time to make a direct ask, but transparency will help pave the way for an ask in the near future.
2 – Host a digital event
Most organizations have been forced to cancel or postpone donor events and programs due to the pandemic. Don’t be afraid to transition your event to a digital space. You can host a speaker, panel discussion, or even a virtual happy hour with donors. Be sure to continue to engage your supporters in your work. If possible, provide regular and ongoing digital events to keep your supporters engaged.
3 – Inform your donors of new and exciting changes first
Starting a new initiative to help respond to the current crises? Share with your donors first. Developing new and creative content? Share with your donors first. However you are innovating – let your donors know about it before sharing to the wider public. A simple email to your donor list before launching something new is all you need to help them feel special and connected to your cause.
4 – Give them a social media toolkit
Now, more than ever, people are feeling compelled and driven to support their community in this time of crisis and need. But with social distancing guidelines and concerns over health and safety, many people want to help but aren’t sure how. Provide your donors with a social media toolkit to help share your organization’s message with their online networks. This can include sample posts, photos, and instructions on hosting an online fundraiser. This is a simple and effective way to engage your donors while sharing your message with a wider audience.
5 – The Handwritten Card
Finally, if you have the ability, write your donors a handwritten card. This simple gesture can have a profound impact. Don’t underestimate the value of taking the time to write out a tangible note of thanks to your supporters. While so many are spending more time at home, receiving a beautiful note in the mail will provide a moment of joy and gratitude for your donors.
In this difficult season, so much is unknown. Take time to touch base with your donors. Now, more than ever, we need each other. And these simple acts can make a huge difference both for your organization and for your donors.