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How to Fundraise During a Global Pandemic

How to Fundraise During a Global Pandemic


The best fundraising tip for nonprofits during a global pandemic? Don’t stop asking for support. “There may be some hesitancy to ask and that's understandable,” said nonprofit fundraising expert, Vince Connelly, “But bottom line, the only way you're really going to raise money is if you ask for it.”

Vince joined the firm’s Nonprofit Group in September to answer some tough nonprofit fundraising questions at a virtual Q&A. Here is just some of his advice.

Keep Asking for Support (Especially in a Recession)

When times are bad, nonprofits often make the mistake of scaling back their fundraising efforts. “I think you have to give people the opportunity,” Vince said. “Nonprofits who wait to make donation requests, unsurprisingly usually raise less.”

In his experience, Vince said most people are looking for ways to help during hard times, whether it’s volunteering, donating, etc. So, don’t wait until after the economy recovers to ask for support. There are people and companies looking to give now.

Honesty is the Best Policy

It’s no secret that organizations who aren’t directly providing services or products to aid pandemic related operations are struggling the most. As a result, some nonprofits might be tempted to stretch the truth on how involved the organization is in the pandemic response.

Vince warns against it. “People appreciate when you’re honest,” he said. “Think long-term and preserve your credibility.”

Consider approaching your existing donors and fans with reminders that your organization can only survive with their donations. “Remind them that your nonprofit might not still be there after the pandemic is over without their support,” Vince said.

Stay Creative

Raising money in the midst of the pandemic has forced fundraisers to leave behind the old rulebook. “All of a sudden we are asking donors for a five-figure gift on the phone or on a virtual call instead of going to talk to them in person,” Vince said. “That’s a major shift.”

As fundraisers pivot to new methods of getting in front of donors, like virtual events, Vince pointed out that the challenges of COVID have forced fundraisers to be more creative and entrepreneurial than ever.

As nonprofits face pandemic related challenges, Vince hopes that when things get back to “normal,” organizations don’t forget some of the creative solutions they’ve developed. “I’d like to see a hybrid model in the future,” Vince said. “We need a mix of the ‘old’ pre-COVID way of doing things and the ‘new’ way going forward.”

Communication is Key

As donors shift gears, it’s up to your organization to stay in contact. Even if a donor is channeling their fundraising dollars this year to organizations addressing the immediate needs of the pandemic, that doesn’t mean you shut down the lines of communication.

“COVID is a significant event in all of our lives,” Vince said. “It’s probably going to go on for a while longer, but like everything, it will eventually end. You need to start looking toward the long-term.” That means staying in contact and building relationships with donors, even if they are opting to spend their fundraising dollars elsewhere during the pandemic.

Get Some Other Opinions

If you’re thinking about launching a big fundraising campaign, like a capital campaign, talk to your stakeholders first. It’s important to do a campaign feasibility and planning study to determine whether people are interested in supporting the effort.

Ask for opinions from donors, community leaders, board members, staff, etc. By getting input from multiple parties, you’re able to determine whether a campaign has the support needed to outweigh the effort.

While a proposed capital campaign for a new gym might be something that came out of your organization’s strategic plan, you might find that your stakeholders are more interested in renovating your school to meet new health and safety recommendations or channeling more money to your technology budget.

Need Help?

Contact us online or call 800.899.4623. You can learn more about Vince here.

Audit guide for nonprofits

Published on October 09, 2020