5 Fundraising Strategies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Whether your organization participated in #GivingTuesdayNow or sat this one out, one thing’s for certain in these uncertain times: your donors care about your mission no matter what happens.

Raising an incredible total of $26.8 million in a single day, DonorPerfect users who participated in #GivingTuesdayNow were so heartened by just how much their donors went above and beyond to support their organization’s critical work, even in this time of crisis.

Whether you’d like to keep the momentum going or this good news inspired you, lean on these 5 fundraising strategies during these challenging times.

COVID-19 Fundraising Strategy #1

Channel authenticity and empathy in a homemade video.

From hit national television shows like The Voice to your local morning news program, slickly produced videos are no longer necessary when it comes to connecting with your audience, or in your case, your donor community.

According to Google, 57% of people who watch a nonprofit video go on to make a donation. And while creating a fundraising video seems tricky while you’re staying at home, it’s not impossible. Believe it or not, all you need is your smartphone and your wonderful self. (If you choose to include your four-legged assistant, we more than understand!)

Chris Carter, Vice President of Communications Marketing & Public Affairs of the San Diego Food Bank, shares an effective way nonprofits can use video,“No one expects a nonprofit to have highly sophisticated video equipment, but donors would appreciate a message from the CEO talking about what they’re doing and how their support and their donations are helping. It’s super easy. Something like that would cost very little or nothing to put together, and then [nonprofits] could send it out in an e-blast to their supporters with a link to their donation page.”

Still not convinced? Here’s a step-by-step blog post with examples on how to shoot and edit your very own fundraising video right from your couch.

diy fundraising video

Watch Now

COVID-19 Fundraising Strategy #2

Adapt your communications to reflect the times we’re living in.

As you engage donors at this time, it’s important to ensure that your messaging speaks to the new and unique challenges your organization is facing due to COVID-19 in a way that acknowledges both the importance of your donor community and the challenges they’re facing as well.

But if you’re like most nonprofit organizations, you don’t have the time and person-power required to convert all of your communications to reflect the COVID-19 pandemic in an instant. That’s why DonorPerfect created The COVID-19 Fundraising Template Kit for Nonprofits. This must-have kit includes Mad Libs-style templates for promoting your:

  • COVID-19 relief fund
  • Crowdfunding campaign
  • Monthly giving program
  • Fundraising event alternatives
  • Remote volunteer listings

Watch the video below to learn more and download your free kit here.

Introducing the New COVID-19 Fundraising Templates Kit

WATCH NOW

COVID-19 Fundraising Strategy #3

Make participation easy and accessible for everyone.

Layoffs and the inability to work are some of the most far-reaching and devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many members of your donor community may be facing financial struggles at this time, they still want to take part in helping others and contributing to solutions that will pull us through together.

To show sensitivity to those who are out of work, offer ways to give back without spending a dime. Money-free activities that can make a big impact include:

Volunteering from home

Need a hand from supporters who are stuck at home? Let them know they can pitch in while binge-watching their favorite series by helping with data entry tasks, online auction listings, and social media engagement.

As for those who prefer one-on-one interaction, ask them to call and check in on senior donors who may not be active on social media and email. Charles “Ebbie” Alfree III, Director of Advancement at The Hickman Friends Senior Community of West Chester, says that connecting with donors this way is crucial to building and maintaining relationships. “What’s really a big part of our initiative right now is just keeping the relationships with our donors and supporters. I’ve been making phone calls to [them], just making sure they’re doing okay. We reach out to them personally because so many of our supporters have been with us for so many years, and they mean so much to us, and we’re all going through this together.”

Engaging on social media

As stay-at-home orders persist, many of us are extra plugged-in to our social media feeds to keep in touch with friends, loved ones, and our favorite organizations and brands. Now is the perfect time to polish and populate your social media feeds!

For organizations on the fence about starting a social media account, Stephanie Bunce, Communications and Marketing Manager at the San Diego Food Bank, shares, “The best way for [nonprofits] to also get their message out there in a quick and direct way is on social media. If they don’t have an already established presence, start off with a public Facebook page or Instagram account to show the mission in action with photos or video and some added copy to explain what people are seeing. People can be hesitant to support a cause that they can’t visually see the impact of and on social media, you have the opportunity to control the public narrative of your mission. What’s the story you want your supporters to know and to share?”

When crafting new posts, consider your donors who may not be able to give and reach out in ways that encourage them to respond without feeling obligated to give.

Posts can include:

  • How are you?
  • This #ThrowbackThursday, we’d love for you to share about your favorite memory with us. Here’s one of our fond memories to get this started!
  • It’s #TellUsTuesday! Tell us, what’s the best recipe you’ve discovered this month?
  • We need a pick-me-up fur real. Share your favorite photos of your four-legged friends with us!

The Akron Symphony Orchestra conducted a similar engagement activity. Development Manager Kimia Ghaderi explains, “During our video chats [with supporters] that we streamed online, people shared some really touching memories about concerts or experiences they had had with [our organization] in the past. We all just got together to talk about our memories and why we love our organization. I would encourage everyone to do that.”

Need a hand getting in the social media game? Check out these 12 social media best practices for nonprofits. You’ll learn about free, easy-to-use social media tools, ideas for eye-catching posts, and analytics tools to help you keep tabs on what’s working and what could use a refresh.

Launching an online fundraiser

Don’t feel limited by a lack of staff members. By leveraging a nonprofit crowdfunding tool, your organization can equip your supporters to fundraise for you. Choose an easy platform that enables donors to create their own fundraising page for your organization. To maximize participation, give them a hand with images, captions, and email content so they can quickly and easily share their fundraiser with their family, friends, and social networks.

Logan Horvath, Program Manager at Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, encourages other nonprofits to continue to fundraise online and leverage multichannel communication strategies. “People will still give!,” she says. “They are sitting at home wondering how they can help from afar and donating is still an option. Use your social media and email campaigns wisely. Everyone is glued to a screen right now so give them the opportunity to use it for good and donate.”

COVID-19 Fundraising Strategy #4

Give local teachers a philanthropic twist to their lesson plans.

Stay-at-home students can participate in crowdfunding, too. Our heroic teachers who rose to the challenge of tailoring their lessons to work in the remote world will greatly appreciate the opportunity to rally their students around championing an awesome cause like yours via virtual classroom.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set up an organizational crowdfunding page so students can easily set up their own fundraisers for your COVID-19 relief fund.
  • Contact schools in your area using the teacher crowdfunding outreach template in The COVID-19 Fundraising Template Kit for Nonprofits.
  • Teachers will invite their students to leverage their creativity and digital savvy to create social posts and emails they’ll use to promote their fundraising pages with their family and friends.

Once the fundraiser is complete, your nonprofit will have gained dozens of next-generation supporters who will advocate for your organization for years to come.

COVID-19 Fundraising Strategy #5

Transform your cancelled event into fun and festive ways to engage online.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic hit right at the start of the spring event season, thousands of galas, gatherings, and celebrations designed to benefit wonderful causes were suddenly canceled. But just because physical facetime is a no-go for now, doesn’t mean you can’t bring your donor community together online.

Host a virtual auction

Invite your donors to treat themselves and give back at the same time by inviting them to shop and bid in your virtual auction.

When the Akron Symphony Orchestra had to cancel their April 17th gala and auction, Kimia Ghaderi reveals that they made a necessary pivot. “What we did was move everything we could online. Of course, you don’t have the energy of a live event, but it did help us reach our supporters in a unique and meaningful way.” As a result, her organization surpassed their expectations for an online gala.

Check out these 10 tips to help you put on an engaging, money-raising auction from home.

Let the show go on via Facebook Live

The entertainment you planned for your in-person event doesn’t have to be canceled along with your get together. Instead, ask the band or speaker to perform using Facebook Live and invite your entire community to attend. (Don’t forget to remind them to promote your online donation form before and after their performance!)

Invite donors to a virtual game night

Bring the whole gang together for some fun and games. From bingo to trivia, there are lots of free resources that bring your favorite games online. Send an email invitation to donors inviting them to register and include a suggested donation amount along with your registration form.

Lean on Free COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits

DonorPerfect is committed to delivering free resources for fundraisers to help organizations like yours as you work to engage your donors while adhering to social distancing rules that keep everyone safe.

Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for the latest content, covering everything from donor engagement ideas to critical CARES Act information to how your donor CRM can be a lifesaver while working from home.

by Emily Patz

May 15 20
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