As fundraisers we talk about the importance of personalizing donor relationships and the value of face-to-face meetings and events. Our ability to do that right now has been severely compromised due to the COVID-19 situation. Rather than focus on what we can no longer do, here are some tips on things you can do now to help keep your fundraising from stalling during this difficult and challenging time.

  1. Social Media – now is a great time to boost your social media efforts, tell stories about your impact, and perhaps talk about how COVID-19 is impacting how you deliver services.
  2. Shoot A Video – Since face-to-face meetings aren’t likely right now, it’s a great time to shoot a video of your program or even just a personal message from the executive director. Bring your mission to your donors.
    Use Video Conferencing – Can’t meet face-to-face? Set up a meeting using Skype, Zoom or Facetime so that you can keep connected. Even virtual meetings can help people feel connected while we are keeping somewhat isolated.
  3. Reassess – If you have had a trip or meetings cancel, take advantage of that time to reassess your work progress, goals and results. Make a list of updated actionable items that you can address now to ensure your fundraising is on track.
  4. Gather Stories – Giving is most often an emotional decision and our job is to help the donor feel the emotion in our work. Interview program staff and clients/members for stories that are moving and show impact. Creating a story bank to use in speeches and communications is an essential tool.
  5. Thank – Now is a great time to execute a thank you strategy. Use one of or a combination of thank you notes, email and phone calls.
  6. Practice Empathy – Reaching out to others just to “check in” on them is good idea anytime. But it matters even more during this time of uncertainty. We used to call them “Courtesy Calls” when I was in sales. No agenda, no ask, just plain old expressions of compassion for others.
  7. Online Giving – Donors won’t likely be making gifts in person right now, so give them a new reason to visit your website (a new story, program update, etc.) and direct them to your giving page.
  8. Remote Work – Does your company policy permit working from home? Now is a great time to try it and monitor results. Employer flexibility and benefits are great assets in attracting and retaining quality employees.
  9. Self-Care – Cancelling meetings and fundraisers can make fundraising more stressful than it already is! (And worrying is not a strategy) Make sure you are taking advantage of this time to take care of yourself personally and professionally, and connect with those who are important to you – your family, friends, donors, etc.

I know how challenging this situation is for our nonprofit communities and for fundraising professionals. But if we take this opportunity to reflect on the things above and how we can adapt our work behaviors to improve our processes and donor connections, we will find that those who support our missions are still willing and ready to help. It just might look a little different than how we’ve done it in the past.

If you have another tip you’d like to share, please post a comment and keep the conversation going.

Doug Hartjes is the founder and president of COR Consulting, Inc. – a firm dedicated to helping leadership, boards and staff achieve fundraising and nonprofit excellence.