OK, we’re a few weeks into this COVID-19 “thing.” We have to keep thinking about how to fundraise and communicate with your donors.
Maybe you quickly put out a fundraising message to your donors. Or you’ve determined that for whatever reasons you need to sit on the sidelines a bit. Whichever you’ve done (and I recommend the former not the latter), it’s time for your next step.
In an emergency or crisis (or whatever term you prefer about this time), donors are seeing a torrent of fundraising, emergency appeals, even sales pushes and scary news centered in the COVID-19 virus.
How do you cut through that mess?
How do you avoid sounding like the nonprofit version of an opportunistic, profiteering, ambulance-chasing lawyer?
How do you remain true to what you believe in this time?
You talk to your donors about their importance to your work and the world.
Validate their prior or current support.
Demonstrate the difference they’re making in the world.
And ask how they are doing.
If you can, ask what you can do for them.
What I know about fundraising is that this is about building a relationship. Everything else is just technique. There are a lot of people selling their “here’s what to do” system. You and I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy creating communications for clients, and you’re too busy keeping your organization afloat. Plus, do you really want to try something new and untested in this time? Do you really want to work with someone new?
If you haven’t taken action, start here.
Now validate. If all you’re doing is “thanking” donors, you’re doing it wrong. Here’s one of my older blog posts that lays out a simple process. And of course, a big chunk of my book Donoricity deals with process and priorities.
Relationships survive recessions, depressions, earthquakes, floods and all disasters. Don’t get fooled into changing your core values. In your discomfort, don’t latch onto a shiny object guaranteed to solve your problem. Really? In your heart, you know better.
You and I are donor-focused fundraisers. Not only is that the right way, it’s proven over time.
Check in with your donors.
Don’t you dare only fundraise.
Don’t you dare miss the chance to remind them that you believe in the relationship between your organization (that’s really you, right?) and them.
If you’re flinging about COVID-19 emails about your needs and the situation, insert an email asking about your donor’s needs. Give them a dose of inspiration and encouragement.
Make sure donors know they can communicate back to you.
In print, devote some space in a newsletter to how you care and how your donors are making a difference in the world and your work.
Don’t get so focused on your outbound communications and the techniques that people are selling / teaching /pushing that you forget to build the relationship.
Don’t agree with me? Have a different perspective? You can always reach me at sthomas AT Oneicity DOT com. Thank you for letting me know what’s up with you. It’s been a blessing to me to know how you’re doing. Keep me posted.
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