Fundraising in the Time of Coronavirus | Time for Innovation

The third post in our blog series focuses on mobilizing fundraising for ALL non-profits, not just those responding directly to the pandemic.

Time to Innovate

Since last writing, the pandemic has become a long-term crisis that will have deep economic and financial implications for everyone.

A vast range of non-profits will provide vital services during the times of hardship that will follow the pandemic for many people.

With the cliff edge drop in fundraising activities, most non-profits will begin to feel the financial bite in the coming weeks and months. Your very survival will likely be on the line.

In our previous post, we suggested that organizations directly meeting the needs of communities affected by coronavirus were the best placed to actively fundraise currently. Now, we believe all organizations should be thinking about and beginning to mobilize fundraising strategies that will help ensure your survival.

Survival and the long-term ability to serve others is a strong message when asking for financial support.

Here are some ideas:

  • Understand your burn rate: once you’ve cut costs, how many months will your organization survive on your current financial reserves? Organizations that have less than 3 months of funding should begin planning to ask now.
  • Expand/build a Digital Fundraising Strategy: people are stuck at home and in front of their screens all day. Now is the time to channel resources from in person fundraising, such as events, face to face and corporate fundraising, to build or expand digital fundraising appeals. There is a wealth of ideas, strategies, platforms and products written up on Nonprofit Tech for Good.
  • Grow your online communications and social media presence: to fundraise effectively online, you need a community of followers that will respond to and help amplify your outreach. Do this now, before you need to begin asking for support.
  • Solicit your entire donor community: write a carefully crafted request for support and solicit all your donors for a COVID-19 survival donation. Develop the appropriate digital/remote solicitation tools and approaches based on the nature of your existing donor relationships. Philanthropica can support you on solicitation writing and digital tools.
  • Repurpose Multi-Year Pledges: if you have existing multi-year pledge commitments for restricted purposes, such as a capital project or new program, think about asking the donor to un-restrict part or all of the next pledge instalments to pay for operations. This will help in three major ways:
  1. Your organization will survive the pandemic and be around to implement the capital project or new program.
  2. By asking for operational support in a time of great need, you’re asking donors to deepen their commitment to your organization and its future. With good donor stewardship via regular communication during the pandemic, you will be in a good position later on to ask donors ‘top up’ their donation equal to the amount that was spent on organizational life support.
  3. Donors are being asked to deepen their commitment but not their support at a time when they themselves may be low on income.
  • Monitor Centraide/United Way/Federation CJA: across Canada, community funders have launched COVID-19 response funds to channel support to NPOs supporting vulnerable communities. Over time, support for operations may be included for a wider range of organizations as the financial effects of the pandemic begin to hit everyone. Keep an eye on these funders and how their giving priorities evolve.
  • Think about an Online Digital Partnership: retail corporations are struggling. Partnering with a non-profit as part of your Digital Fundraising Strategy will provide your organization with more eyeballs for your fundraising program. The corporate benefits by being seen to support the community in their time of need.

Now is not the time to stop, now is the time to innovate and find new ways of seeking vital support.

Stay safe. Stay connected.

Written by Camilla Leigh, Partner, Philanthropica