Speed, volume, simplicity and urgency matter.
The sooner you ask donors, the more they can give. Philanthropic capacity and responsiveness tend to decline as a crisis wears on https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/what-happens-to-charitable-giving-when-the-economy-falters/
People are getting swamped with C-19 communications. Your open rates may be down 20% to 30% and require more frequent contact to reach your donors. Their patience may be limited, so keep your message simple. Don’t mess around. Get to the point. Urgency matters. If you can’t answer the questions, Why give to you? Why now? others can.
Retention. If you represent a nonprofit that’s not on the frontline fight against COVID-19, such as arts, cultural and environmental causes, donor retention is particularly important. Keep the donors you have. Thank them, engage them and then ask for their support.
STEP ONE: THANK INDIVIDUAL DONORS
☐ Have we thanked our major donors? And have we done so with personal, thoughtful calls in addition to snail mail thank you notes and e-mails?
Example: See VMJA blog on how your board can thank donors with one-page plan: http://vmja.com/covid-19-blog-1-engage-staff-and-supporters/
☐ Have we thanked in our unique voice? What can we do that others aren’t doing? What will make us stand out from all the other nonprofits?
Tip: Evite is offering its premium greeting cards for free (up to 750). You can tailor with your own images/message to all, or send personalized ones to individuals: https://www.evite.com/covid19
☐ Have we varied the ways we thank? You might send video thank yous to donors as a group, or individualize, such as by leaving a thank you video message to donors you can’t reach by phone.
Video Messaging Resources:
Some integrate with your database (www.causevid.com/DonorPerfect) but can cost $299/month.
Others integrate with Outlook, Trello, Google. Bonjoro, (www.bonjoro.com/ is free to $79/month.
STEP TWO: ENGAGE INDIVIDUAL DONORS
☐ Have we engaged our major donors in our plans? Have I articulated the non-financial ways they can help, such as advocacy, in-kind services, amplifying our social media messages?
Example: See VMJA blog on how to engage donors in your C-19 plan and invite them to help: http://vmja.com/c-19-blog-2-activate-your-board-deeper-dive/
☐ Have we found concrete ways to engage them in their homes? Get creative.
Examples: Mail small boxes of colored chalk to your donors, along with instructions
• Advocacy nonprofit: ask them to create sidewalk art advocacy messages in chalk, photograph their creations, then post these images on their social media.
• Zoo: Invite each family member to make draw their favorite animal on driveway or sidewalk, then send to you for posting or as part of a competition.
Resource: Staples www.Staples.com is delivering any size order of chalk for free.
☐ Have we invited donors to volunteer? Create one list of tasks they could do remotely, and another of COVID-safe volunteer opportunities. This may deepen their connection to your mission. If you’re stuck for ideas, www.VolunteerMatch.org has posted close to 750,000 virtual volunteer opportunities. You’ll find great suggestions in their article on managing virtual volunteers.
STEP THREE: ASK BY STARTING EASY
☐ Have we leveraged gifts that don’t cost them anything? Reminding them of Amazon Smile is obvious. You can also update your “wish list” of pro-bono services and in-kind donations if you’re equipped to receive them. And don’t overlook corporate matching gifts. You’ll want to collect all you can from this source before matching companies decide to suspend these programs. You may consider integrating a matching gift lookup service into your donate page, even if only for a brief period.
Resource: https://doublethedonation.com/ offers a free 14-day trial.
☐ Have we invited donors to fundraise for us? You already know about Facebook fundraisers, but if you’ve not tried crowdfunding before, this may be the time. Ask for something specific, immediate and compelling, as colleges have appealed for funds to house stranded foreign students. Here are some popular options:
• https://fundly.com is a popular fundraising platform that doesn’t charge fees.
• https://fundrazr.com/pages/nonprofits is a nonprofit. It’s free to your nonprofit when you choose to have transaction fees paid by your supporters. It integrates with Facebook and other social media.
• I’m not partial to any one fundraising software, but here’s a free starter kit with templates from Donor Perfect https://www.donorperfect.com/nonprofit-technology-blog/fundraising-software/your-nonprofit-crowdfunding-campaign-kit-with-templates/
☐ Have we asked donors to give in small increments? Many donors want to help but hesitate before making big gifts. Tell them you understand, and that you will need their help to sustain your cause in the months ahead. If appropriate, suggest they participate in your recurring gifts or monthly giving program. You may be surprised to learn that 21% of Baby Boomers participate in such programs. Here’s help if you’re not sure how to structure a recurring gift program.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DOES THIS PRESENT?
☐ Have we changed the way we engage your donors? If you’ve been meaning to vary and invigorate donor communications, this is the time. And the easy, gentle ways suggested above will show them you empathize with their situation and that you’re all on the same side.
☐ Have we fully tapped into our volunteers’ potential? We often ask volunteers to give but may neglect to ask donors to volunteer. Studies show that donors can do much more for you than give:
• Write thank-you notes
• Contribute to newsletter, email, and other designs
• Host online auctions
• Encourage them to be one of your nonprofit storytellers to engage donors