Fundraising lessons learned from the COVID crisis in 2021. A fundraising toolkit.
Raise your hands if you thought the COVID crisis would be over by now? We did! But as yet another variant appears and we enter a new phase of possible restrictions, it seems the rollercoaster is far from over. So, we’ve taken this chance to look back over the past year and a half to reflect on what we have learned. Cases might be rising again, along with possible new restrictions, but this time we’ve got experience on our side.
So here it is. A fundraising toolkit to help you survive this new wave.
Never stop fundraising
When lockdowns and restrictions first hit, nonprofits were braced for impact and never has a fundraiser’s job been more important. But how to fundraise when people are losing loved ones and livelihoods? Here’s what we learned:
LESSON 1: Donors still want to give
It might seem like the worst time to ask, but donors are still willing to give. Yes, the landscape is volatile (to put it mildly) but it is by no means non-existent. Now more than ever, people understand the role and need for nonprofits. They want to help, and we have seen some amazing emergency campaigns during the past year and a half. Proof that if you pitch it right, people are open to being asked.
SURVIVAL TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst someone can say is no.
LESSSON 2: AND, they’re being flexible
We never thought we would see the day grant funders offered flexible deadlines, expediated decision-making, and the chance to ask for core funds. But here we are. One of the absolute silver linings of COVID-19 is the new found flexibility in grant funding, and the conversations that are emerging between donors and organizations.
SURVIVAL TIP: It’s now or never. Take a deep breath and ask for what you REALLY need.
LESSON 3: Don’t be so wrapped up in the ask you forget to ‘check in’
Relationships are a two-way process. Instead of simply asking for money, we have seen lots of nonprofits go the extra mile—extending and bending their services to meet user needs, checking in on their supporters—just because. Nonprofits and donors need each other like never before, and amid all the angst and anxiety, a deeper bond has formed.
SURVIVAL TIP: Think donor stewardship and plan for touch-points that put donors over donations.
LESSON 4: If you haven’t–get ready to go cashless
We have had our eye on cashless giving for a while, but no one could have predicted this year’s surge. As life moved online, so have donors. With fears around contaminated cash, contactless giving has also risen, and more nonprofits are buying into the ‘tap’.
SURVIVAL TIP: Invest in cashless giving and online fundraising.
Be the disruptor, not the disrupted
COVID-19 pushed three years of digital development into three months. Where digital fundraising skills have been a historic gap, COVID times have seen organizations dive right in. When it comes to digital disruption, COVID-19 has shown us that:
LESSON 5: Home work counts
In what has become the world’s largest remote working experiment, COVID-19 has forced the traditional office regime wide open. As fundraisers discover the wonders of remote working, there are no shortage of tools (including our own cloud-based CRM) to help you make the most of your virtual office environment.
SURVIVAL TIP: Count outputs not hours, and make sure your team has the technology to deliver.
LESSON 6: Relationships still build when they’re digital
Just because the world has gone virtual, you do not stop building relationships with donors. There are lots of ways to engage with charity donors online. Video calls are just one. Whether you’re working with new, current, or lapsed donors (or all three) there is an art to engagement. Think thank you’s, updates, anniversaries, spotlights, event invites, and good old-fashioned conversation. There are so many ways to keep on cultivating donor relationships—don’t miss them!
SURVIVAL TIP: Harness the power and potential of virtual relationships.
LESSON 7: You can do pretty much anything when you try
From virtual events, to conferences and training, the bar for digital fundraising gets higher every day. COVID-19 has given people the permission, impetus, and confidence to deliver on digital. Have you?
SURVIVAL TIP: Never stop learning. Take the time out to assess your digital maturity and plan for the next phase of development.
Don’t forget to look forward
It might feel like there is no end in sight, but we WILL get on top of the corona crisis, and fundraising will keep on moving forward. Don’t be so distracted by your short-term needs that you forget about the future.
LESSON 8: The fundamentals of fundraising still apply
At the onset of lockdown life, it seemed the sector had a crisis of confidence. But you are fundraisers, and the fundamentals of fundraising still apply. Even in a global pandemic.
SURVIVAL TIP: Trust your instinct and experience. You’ve got this!
LESSON 9: Diversify your income
Individual giving. Major Donors. Trusts. Corporates. Institutional. It is hard to think of an income stream that hasn’t been hit by COVID-19. Keep all your eggs in one basket, and the storm will knock you over. Diversify your income and give yourself the foundation you need to stay strong in these challenging times.
SURVIVAL TIP: Now is the time to invest in fundraising, not furlough it!
LESSON 10: Think lifetime value
So much of everything that has happened is out of our control. Your past strategies might have gone out the window, but that does not mean they are worthless. Your nonprofit still needs to play the long game. If it doesn’t, you might survive right now, but you risk coming up short in the future.
SURVIVAL TIP: Get your 2022 fundraising strategy ready and adapt it for the future.
Remember, we are in this together
Whatever your organization has gone through—or is going through— we guarantee that someone else is too. Reach out and connect with your peers. Be part of the conversation. Learn from those around you, and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You will be surprised by how much support is out there, just waiting to be tapped.
You are not alone. We will get through this. Let us show you how thankQ CRM can help you with your fundraising efforts during COVID, and beyond. Contact us to set up your personalized demo today!