“At this point in the COVID crisis, what should I be telling the donors?” That’s one of the most persistent questions non-clients are asking me.
And it’s the right question to be asking.
It’s a particularly appropriate question because there are lots of opinions about what you should do.
Here are some common answers about COVID and donors right now:
Donors are tired of it.
Donors don’t want to hear about it.
Donors are fatigued by the crisis (and tired that it’s constant news).
Donors won’t give if you talk about COVID.
Some of those are true but are not reasons to ignore this situation in your fundraising.
Here’s what I believe you should do.
You must continue to communicate about the COVID crisis as it impacts your work. You cannot avoid it, and you should not avoid it.
Please hear this clearly. You must not use the COVID crisis as your vehicle or lever or accelerator for your fundraising. You must not connect your fundraising to the crisis if your work isn’t impacted. That’s not only wrong, but it’s also dumb. You won’t fool anyone. Or at least you won’t fool many and they won’t stay fooled long. Oh, and did I mention it’s wrong?
If your work is impacted. Tell your donors. It’s OK. They need to know. If they’re your donor, and they have an emotional connection with your work, they will want to know.
You owe it to them to tell them.
What do I mean when I say “tell them”?
If COVID is a major factor or negative impact to the work your nonprofit does, you have to communicate that to donors. Remember, it’s not about your budget. It’s not even about you. It’s about whatever is happening with your work because of COVID. If there are consequences to what is happening with COVID, let your donors know.
This letting the donor know can be in newsletters, conversations, phone calls, emails, direct mail of any kind . . . and of course on your website. (You do have a COVID Response or a COVID Update page, right?)
Don’t believe those who say ignore it or don’t ever mention it in your fundraising.
Of course, you almost certainly shouldn’t make all your messaging about COVID. You can’t be all COVID all the time.
Tell your donors what’s going on. Let them know if you need help.
Remember, they love what you’re doing. They want to help.
I’d love to hear from you. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to email me at sthomas AT oneicity DOT com.
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