coronavirus + nonprofits

This is a strange and confusing time in the world right now. The Coronavirus pandemic is influencing so many areas of our lives – including the nonprofit organizations we support. Fundraising galas are being canceled. Volunteers are being asked to stay home. Desperately needed supplies are back-ordered. In a time when we all need to unite, we’re being asked to stay away from one another.

Well, let’s find the silver lining in all of this. Here are a few ideas on how to make this crisis a time of opportunity for your nonprofit.

 

1. be straight up about fundraising events

If you are a nonprofit that has to postpone or even cancel a gala, let your donors know how much this is affecting you. Galas can bring in a huge amount of nonprofit’s funding for the year. Tell donors how much you typically raise from your fundraiser. And then ask for their help. Here are a few ways:

    • Donate – Ask them to donate the cost of their ticket or make the donation they would have made at the event.
    • Online auction – Host an online auction with the materials or products donated to your event. Send an announcement out a few days prior and host a livestream on Facebook or Instagram.
    • Virtual event – Were you supposed to have keynote speakers at your event? This can still happen – virtually. Have them record themselves giving their speech and post it on social media, or in an e-blast. See how a charity in Seattle launched a four-day virtual party and surpassed its fundraising goals.
    • Reach out – Have your gifts officer reach out to people who were supposed to attend your event. A simple phone call can go a long way. Be honest about how you are dealing with this situation, but stay positive.

2. other ways to give

The reality is, nonprofits are losing money because of this virus. The other reality is, nonprofits serve people who will struggle most from social distancing. Service industries are shutting down, schools are closing, and stress is high. Give your supporters as many opportunities to give as you can so you can continue to help those who need it most.

    • Digital giving campaign – Come up with a simple campaign idea and launch it on any and all platforms. Email, social media, website, etc. Here is a resource on how to effectively create a digital campaign.
    • Rewrite your appeal – Has your spring appeal gone out yet? If it hasn’t, consider rewriting parts of it to incorporate how your nonprofit is fairing this storm. Be very clear, concise, and honest about the impact this is having on the people you serve. If you have already sent your appeal out, follow up with an email on how much much the Coronavirus is affecting your organization. Remember, keep your messaging optimistic.
3. get creative

Right now, we are playing the waiting game. Everyone has been sequestered to their homes and cabin fever is real. Take this opportunity to be innovative and encourage people to take action!

  • Live tours – Do you have a new project or space you have been working on? People love seeing life on the inside of a business. Give them a virtual tour of your space. Let them see how this mayhem has brought innovation and creativity to your mission.
  • Instagram takeovers – This is a great way to let your supporters experience different points of view throughout your nonprofit. Give your login information to one of your clients, staff members, etc. and let them show what a day-in-the-life looks like. People love getting the inside scoop on exactly who they are supporting. Reminding the community who you are serving can drive donors to give to make an even greater impact.
  • Highlight the good – In the midst of the chaos that this virus is bringing to our communities, people need to hear the good stories that can come out of this. There is a positive side to everything. Call out someone you recognize as doing some good. Share a story of someone being a good neighbor. People need to see how in times of struggle, there is always hope.
  • Other than money – What about the people who aren’t able to give financially? Can they give in another way? Be inventive by offering other opportunities for individuals or families to give. Can they write cards for homebound residents? Can supporters send food? Homemade meals? Sack lunches? Give the people at home something to do!
  • Start conversations – Communication is key right now. Ask your supporters questions. Give them a phone call. Send out a questionnaire. Ask your followers on social media. What are they doing to push through this pandemic? Are they doing anything remotely to help support the community? Share those ideas. Give more ideas. Make this experience a conversation.

To sum things up – be honest, ask for help, and get creative. But don’t forget to thank. Show your supporters how appreciative you are of their assistance. Send video acknowledgments, handwritten thank you notes, texts, and phone calls. This shows just how much their support means to your organization. Without them, the community wouldn’t be the same. 

When times are tough, the best of humanity needs to come out. We need to relay the importance of helping others along with yourself. We need to be a true community. And together, we can.

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