If you’re one of my private coaching clients, you’ve already heard me ask:

what preparations are you making for the possibility that your fundraising event might be canceled due to the coronavirus (now officially called Covid-19)?

The numbers of coronavirus seem to still be low outside of China. But reports are that the current total numbers dwarf the SARS epidemic. And today’s report from China is not that the numbers will “go down” but that they’ll "plateau." So this virus seems to be around for a bit.

What are you doing to mitigate its impact on your fundraising?

Two Ways the Coronavirus Could Impact on Fundraising

Here are two major ways the coronavirus (officially called Covid-19) could impact your fundraising.

  1. Jeopardizing your fundraising events

    The news is filling with a growing number of conferences and events that are being canceled due to health concerns stemming from the coronavirus outbreak. There was the 100,000 person conference in Barcelona. And Facebook’s global conference in San Francisco. Those are just two.

    What are you doing now to insulate yourself from a problem with your event?

    I would keep on asking for sponsorships. But I'd be looking for ways donors can experience the benefit of their gift even before the event. Could you do a Facebook Live with them? Or included them on a podcast?

    One of the best ways to know what you might do, is to ask them. Donors will tell you what they’d like. People way want to inspire others to give. Companies may want to be seen as generous by their customers and prospects. But you'll never really know unless you ask.

    They may even tell you that they don’t need any recognition. Which could be a clue that they are giving because of your nonprofit, not solely because of your event. Knowing that could help you in your relationship building and future asks.

  2. The economy

    The other impact the coronavirus could have on your fundraising is the economy. For months, headlines have been suggesting the global economy is on the path to a recession. More recently, companies like Apple are cutting their earnings forecasts because their factories in China aren’t able to produce the way they used to. (It’s hard to produce goods when people are in quarantine.)

    So what are you doing to head this off? If you normally do your major fundraising in the fall, it might be wise to start ramping it up now. The problem with a recession is two-edged - economic and psychic. When the economy goes down, many do have less money to give. But many more experience "psychic poverty." They have money to give, but they are less willing to give it because they feel economically vulnerable.

    Another thing to consider is broadening your fundraising. If you normally only focus on major gifts, it might be wise to start doing a fundraising letter campaigns and monthly giving.

These are only preliminary thoughts. But it's important to start thinking about them now. Just because the coronavirus isn’t big in your country doesn’t mean you’re immune from feeling its affects. (Click here to tweet that.)

What about you?

Are there other ways the coronavirus might impact fundraising? Are you doing things to mitigate the possible negative impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on your fundraising? Or, I suppose, are you seeing it actually help your fundraising be more effective?

Let us know in the comments.


Updated March 4: When this was first published on February 18, the news was about the coronavirus in China and Japan so the image was of a woman in a mask in Tokyo. Since then the virus has spread around the world but the racial profiling against Asians has intensified. So the image was changed to not give fuel to that racism.

Update March 19: On March 18, Cherian Koshy, Development Director at the Des Moines Center for the Performing Arts did a training in The Nonprofit Academy on how this Covid-19 coronavirus is impacting fundraising and communicating with donors. We've removed the paywall so you can watch the entire thing, including answers to viewer questions at: https://thenonprofitacademy.com/trainings/new-normal/

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