April 3, 2020
by Lori Shecter

Fundraising in the time of COVID

Fundraising Now

A list of quick tips to help you now for fundraising in the time of COVID. First of all, DON’T GIVE UP. Many Non-Profits that had events scheduled raised more money than their live event had projected. People who can WANT TO GIVE whatever they can. Remember they don’t want to see you go downhill either because you are helping their community.

1:  Paralysis is the enemy

Don’t give up.  Find the reason that they need to give and don’t be afraid to articulate that reason. You can’t wait for the perfect condition, because waiting is the enemy.

Define who you serve:  “We serve the elderly meals and we are in dire need in order to continue to provide these services for our seniors.”

  1. Define why you need it now
  2. Define what has changed
  3. Be specific about impact:  “For $50, we can serve a family of 4 for 2 days
  4. Call to Action:  Make it easy to donate and tell them what to do– Click here, text this number, etc.

2:  How to communicate

They WANT to hear from you and know how they can help you.  But communication ways and means are completely different.  This is the time that they can see the family behind the executive director, a tour of your facilities and/or a tour of your home office.  How are you operating now (AKA Jimmy Kimmel live. )  I do realize that we aren’t actors (well, maybe some of us are), but having some fun can help engage your audience!

  1. Be boldly transparent!
  2. Be vulnerable and honest
  3. Humanize your message
  4. Be fun, and unique.  Let people see the real side of you.

3:  If you have to cancel an event…

Do NOT assume that people want their money back.  If you look at the crazy numbers in Go Fund Me projects, $ millions are being raised because people WANT to give.

How to contact people:  Through email, and social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube and of course your website.

  1. What you are going to do instead:  There are many ways to turn any event virtual (see the point below) while still having fun.
  2. Who to contact …sponsors — of course: Your sponsor is going to want to support you (no matter what) and/or want assurance of their continued visibility with your organization.  Sponsorship visibility can be year-long positioning on your website, social media and email blasts.
  3. Who to contact …donors and attendees:  again, so far many NP’s have reported to me, that people do not want refunds:  But it is still important to reach out to people via email to give them the option to receive a refund.
  4. If your event has gone virtual:  Hopefully you are able to pivot to a virtual event.  And, this may, in the long run, offer you a load of content for your website and social media for months to come.

At this point, you are probably asking “what kind of content?”

  1. Create a hashtag for your virtual event.  Ask people to post videos and images of their virtual event with you.  Ask them to share their images and videos
  2. Go pro – check out the services that run social media contests such as  https://gleam.io/ and have your events turned into a contest
  3. Make events shorter and but more often.  What is everyone doing now at home?  Cooking, Homeschooling, Working from Home, spending family time, Home Exercising.  How can you create virtual events with people doing exactly what they must be doing?  Invent ways that their stress can turn into a contest.  More on that and I am open to suggestions on how each Non-Profit can customize this idea.
  4. Get all that user-generated content that can be posted in the future when hopefully, this is no longer a way of life for us!

4:  Going virtual

From 5K’s to dog walks to dinners to concerts, there are ways to GO VIRTUAL.  We love what the Boston Symphony Orchestra has done, and we have a lot more ideas listed here:

  1. Virtual Dinner:  UBER EATS delivered dinner and live -stream with Zoom (password protected)  Have your honorees black-tie it and accept their award live
  2. Include live auction using auction software:  There is no reason why you can’t stream the live auction and take bids using auction software.  Don’t have the money?  Organizations are using Google docs to take bids too! Also free, Survey Monkey!  Easy to set up as well.
  3. 5K – Now, seriously, that is the easiest type of run to keep virtual — You don’t need software but if you want to make it more trackable, here’s one we found: Virtual Run Events
  4. Raffles:  Online raffles are not new, and there are loads of software that can help you with that including any of the non-profit management software you might already be using.
  5. For our complete list of virtual events, CLICK HERE

5:  Your email list

If you already have your email list segmented — with those who open, click and donate, and the amount that they donate, awesome, you rock.  But if you don’t, take this time to start identifying those people that are most likely to respond to your needs.

Don’t forget, be human, keep it simple, fun, authentic and honest.  People want to give — as much as they can afford.  And I’ll end this by saying what I started out with:

Don’t give up– do something!  And, as always, if you need any technical or marketing help, please contact us!