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How to Fundraise in a Pandemic

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

A pandemic is currently ravaging the world, and it is affecting everyone in more ways than one. The economy is quickly collapsing and it feels impossible to sift through the bad news for a single positive story. So, how on earth are you supposed to fundraise now, when everyone around you is hurting?

I get it, and I’m here with you. As someone who has been fundraising for the past decade, I know how challenging it is to raise money when times are normal – and these unprecedented events seem to only make this difficult task even harder. But, there are new ways to approach this head on.

There are ways that those in the nonprofit sector, can get through this, and I wanted to share some of the ways on how I’ve been navigating fundraising in this difficult time: Lead with Honesty.  Are you feeling freaked out by your numbers right now? Did you have to lay people off? Cut salaries by 30%? Know that everyone is feeling uneasy and afraid in some way during this time, and the best, most real conversations with donors usually happen in this time of shared anxiety. If your donors value authenticity (which, hopefully they do) they will appreciate your honesty and understand. They will also remember you and your organization when things bounce back. Keep in Contact. You might think people don’t want to hear from you right now, but I’m here to tell you that’s wrong. The single most important thing you can do right now for donors and potential ones is to communicate with them right now. Send them check in emails every other week. Tell them what your days look like. Share an uplifting story or an article you really liked. Ask how you might be able to help them. It’s important to communicate with your donor base – and potential donors during this time. People DO want to hear from you.  Ask for Non-Financial Help.  Have you ever thought about asking a donor for advice on how to enhance a program, or improve your marketing emails? I know, it’s a little bit of a challenge for our egos. Think of this time as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collect all of the feedback and advice you can. You don’t need to use all of it now (or ever!) but I am sure some of what you hear will be useful and will be easily implemented by you and your team. Plus, people have a way of giving advice – and later giving money. You’ll be surprised what can come of this. Honesty, communication, and asking for some advice. These are simple tricks, that when implemented, can have some surprisingly positive benefits for your organization, both in the immediate and the long run.  Remember: this isn’t the first challenge for you, or your organization – though it might be one of the most extreme. Tough times have a way of bringing out the best in people, and a few individuals are just waiting to connect with you and share their generosity right now. It’s up to you to reach out and make that meaningful connection.

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