COVID-19 and Fundraising: How to Weather the Storm

March 19, 2020

The ever-evolving COVID-19 situation is stopping the world in its tracks. Fundraisers should be looking at their planned activities for the next few months and asking what, if any, strategies need tweaking, refinement or course-correction.

CONTINUE TO SEND YOUR DIRECT MAIL APPEALS AS PLANNED

Even though it may go against your first instinct, you need to continue to send your direct mail appeals as planned. All of the chaos surrounding COVID-19 and the markets could (and will) suppress response rates and revenue, but donors still want to be engaged and invited to do good. Actually, people are wanting to do something to fight back against the powerlessness they feel to combat the pandemic.

Aim to acknowledge the COVID-19 situation in your copy where it’s natural, but not to discourage your donors from giving. You want to show that you’re aware of the situation, and make sure they know their help is still needed. The better job you can do to create an immediate problem that your donor can solve, and the more you can inspire and delight donors, the better you will fare.

TWEAK AND PIVOT YOUR DIGITAL CAMPAIGNS AS NEEDED

Digital marketing has the distinct advantage of being adjustable, so you can tweak your messaging on the fly. This is especially important given the constant change we’re experiencing day by day.

If you have digital campaigns or emails, make sure your message aligns with the current news cycle – or at least works within it.

Asking people to sign up for a future event, for example, is not very timely. If there’s a direct COVID-19 connection to your cause, now would definitely be the time to make your appeal. If your appeal still has immediacy, or urgency, or is uplifting, do hit send!

This is also a great time to up your donor-centered stewardship emails as everyone would love content that’s NOT about the novel coronavirus to flood their inboxes.

PRESS PAUSE ON PLANNED GIVING APPEALS – FOR NOW

If you have legacy mailings planned, it may make sense to delay the mail or email for the time being. The ‘death’ subject has always been persnickety and delicate when it comes to legacy giving, but the current circumstances do take it to another level.

Simply put, folks are worried, panicked, and scared of illness or death from this disease – particularly the older folks, who are most at risk and also the target demographic of your legacy messaging. Death-avoidance is key in successful legacy persuasion, and right now, the world seems to be hyper-focused on mortality.

If you can press pause on your legacy mailings, do so.

MAINTAINING HUMAN CONNECTION

Practicing physical social distancing, along with good hygiene practices, is the best tool we all have to fight the spread of this virus. The downside, of course, is not only canceled events, recreation, hobbies, and closed stores – but the feelings of loneliness and isolation that come from staying at home and being unable to interact with our people. Humans (especially those of us who are extroverts) are social animals, after all!

If your organization can support a remote working strategy, you might be even keener to stay connected with your colleagues.

Here at Good Works, for instance, we’re taking the time to connect with our colleagues throughout the day via Slack – does your workplace have a similar messaging app it would use during this time?

We also host scheduled video chat calls each morning with the whole team so we can see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices! It keeps us all feeling connected and the trains running even smoother.

Or, you could try a scheduled ‘coffee break chat’ with a colleague – us Good Workers have a daily ‘date’ with a different colleague each afternoon. Bring the water cooler chat to your home office! Or, actually, take a walk outside while having this chat.

These are unusual times, for sure. Keep focused. Keep moving forward. And, keep working your plans.

How is your organization handling the COVID-19 situation? Leave us a comment!

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Holly Wagg

Holly Wagg

Fundraiser. Connector. Photographer. Adventurer. Extroverted-introvert. Digital architect. Change agent. Mother. Architect of random projects.