Learn how you can connect with donors, and overcome the fear of fundraising to ensure your nonprofit is funded through the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and beyond.

Is it insensitive to fundraise now? Fundraising experts say now is the time to double down on fundraising and not run from it. How can you overcome fear to embrace fundraising again confidently? Follow these tips to connect with donors and gain the confidence to sucessfully fundraise in today’s new normal.

Donor Relationships Before COVID-19

In the last few weeks, our relationships with donors have changed dramatically. Those changes will drive the fundraising decisions we make well into the future. So it’s crucial to understand how different types of fundraising methods and segments have changed before we tackle how to adapt and even thrive in the future. Depending on your nonprofit’s size and fundraising model, you probably used one or several of these methods to accomplish your fundraising goals before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:

Major Gift Fundraising

Before COVID-19, nonprofit organizations that rely on major gifts, such as colleges or hospitals, would hold face-to-face meetings to obtain funds to support their programs. These gifts often depended on fundraisers visiting donors in their homes, restaurants, and offices. In the future, will these donors still take an appointment with you? It is unlikely that you’ll be able to completely return to face-to-face solicitations or at least not at the same level as before.

Corporate and Foundation Appeals

Larger nonprofits tend to use a combination of direct mail, events, corporate or foundation appeals, as well as face-to-face meetings to fundraise. Face-to-face meetings are essential for larger nonprofits who like to meet with corporations and foundations before submitting their appeals. How will you connect with corporations and foundations in the future without the opportunity for face to face encounters?

Fundraising Events

Think about the number of events you have at your nonprofit where you have significant donor contact. For larger nonprofits, fundraising events provide an excellent opportunity to meet with supporters in person to strengthen your relationships. Small to medium nonprofits also rely heavily on events to bring new people into their organization and to find volunteers. Those events are now, for the most part, off the schedule. When restrictions are lifted, will supporters want to give up social distancing measures to attend your events? Considering that we’re entering peak event season soon, it may be a year or more before event revenue returns to prior levels.

Individual Gifts, Sponsorships and Auction Item Donations

Predictions are that between 20-40 million people will be unemployed by this summer. How many of your individual donors fall into this category? Will their giving capacity be reduced, or will they stop giving altogether? Also included in this category would be the local store managers, banking representatives, and other management level donors who typically sponsor your events, provide auction items, and buy tables. Financially, their businesses may not be in the position to continue this in the future. Additionally, the challenge of soliciting for this type of support could be limited due to social distancing regulations regarding how many individuals are allowed inside certain businesses.

Post-COVID-19: Donor Needs Are Still at the Forefront

While COVID-19 has changed how we relate to donors, but it hasn’t changed what your constituents want out of a relationship with your nonprofit. Your donors still have a need to belong and be connected to other people, perhaps even more so now. The thing that’s changed is how you connect with them to accomplish that.

How to Connect with Donors NOW

Every relationship changes over time. Your relationship with donors is no exception. To succeed in fundraising, you need to find new ways to draw donors in and make them feel connected. Here are a few things to keep in mind, no matter which relational fundraising model you use.

Are You Collecting the Right Information?

If you cannot reach supporters, you can’t solicit them. Your donor management system and the data you’ve collected on donors is your most important resource to help you reach supporters. Make sure your database is up to date and free of errors. If your donor data is not accurate or is missing essential contact information, like email addresses or cell phone numbers, consider doing an information update campaign. This can be as simple as a phone call, postcard or email to supporters asking them how they are doing and letting them know you’re updating your contact information to keep them informed about your programs and services. Also, be sure your website includes an email signup form so constituents can stay in the loop.


Not sure what to say when you reach out to donors? Check out The COVID-19 Fundraising Template Kit for Nonprofits. It’s packed with email and social media templates that help you sensitively communicate how donors can support your organization from home.

Embrace Zoom for Donor Meetings

Even after lockdown restrictions are lifted, supporters will probably still be concerned about their health. It’s unlikely they’ll be willing to hold face to face meetings as frequently as before. However, as a fundraiser, you know that seeing a live face changes the donor interaction. What can you do? Embrace Zoom as an equivalent to a donor meeting. Now is the perfect time to use this technology since most of your supporters are already using it to connect to family members, work, and school. As with any face-to-face meeting, lead with your concern about your donor and their well-being. Also pay attention to their non verbal cues. Before your meeting, brainstorm about the unique ways Zoom can help you demonstrate the impact of your donor’s gift. Can you connect supporters with a recipient of your nonprofit’s programs via a live Zoom meeting so they can learn first hand how they’ve made a difference? Are there staff or board members that want to express their gratitude for the support of a specific program? Zoom meetings can be incredibly powerful ways to give donors insight into your mission and build your relationships.


Talk to other organizations who are all feeling the same stress and insecurity about how to fundraise now and in the future. Join our COVID-19 Resource Group for Fundraisers in DP Community.

Cultivate Donor Relationships Using DIY Videos

Online fundraising campaigns with videos encourage 57% of viewers to donate. Why? Because poignant and timely video messages can bring your donor inside any part of your organization, giving them access they’ve never had before. When you show your donors what you are doing and ask them to continue to support your efforts, you’ll create a sense of belonging. By keeping constituents in the know, they’ll feel connected and keep giving.

Videos are easy to share via social media, email, and on your website. They can be a powerful way to connect with supporters and generate revenue. The best part? You can make them right from your couch.


Learn how to make compelling fundraising videos and cultivate donor relationships in our latest tutorial.

Pay Attention to the Details

When you’re trying new ways to reach out to donors and connect with them, don’t forget about the small details that can make the difference between success and a miss. If staff is working remotely and using personal cell phones to contact supporters, find a way to have those calls routed through the office, so your organization’s name appears on the caller id. Donors will be more likely to pick up and respond when they see your nonprofit is calling them versus a blocked caller ID phone number.

Also, pay attention to your background and location when making videos or holding ZOOM or other dial-in calls. Make sure your presence is professional yet engaging. Don’t give supporters a reason not to doubt that your organization is using their donation well.


DonorPerfect can ease the transition to working from home for your entire team, from seasoned staff members to short-term volunteers. Check out these 11 ways DonorPerfect makes it easier to collaborate, from wherever you are.

Free Webinar: Overcoming The Fear Of Fundraising

For more ways you can connect with donors, and overcome the fear of fundraising, register for our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, 5/27 at 1 PM EST. Join fundraising expert Robbe Healey and others from DonorPerfect and the nonprofit industry as they discuss the best way to fundraise in today’s new normal.


by Stephanie Kanak

May 12 20
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