With more and more countries, states, and cities enforcing at-home isolation and the financial markets falling, fundraising is definitely harder.
But of the worst things I kept hearing from clients was "We don't think this is the right time to ask for money."
My general response? How dare you make a giving decision for a donor! It's up to the donor to tell you whether she wants to give or not. Giving is her decision, not yours.
In the past week, I've seen nonprofits receiving tens of thousands of dollars - even small ones. More than that, people are giving to help small businesses stay open. And people are even buying meals for each other and giving drink money.
There is a lot of money being given now.
This isn't to be crass or manipulative. Past experiences show us that nonprofits that ask now will fare better in the future. They'll remain top of mind for donors. And they'll emerge from the economic downturn faster.
If you don't believe me, watch the special Free Review Friday Steven Screen did last week.
Free Review Friday: Special Coronavirus Covid-19 Edition
Last Friday, Steven Screen and Chris Davenport did an amazing 2-hour video reviewing crisis email and direct mail appeals. It is chock full of amazingly helpful tips. You can see it at: https://worklessraisemore.com/free-review-fridays-27-covid-19/
(Two hours is long. I'm not sure how he did it. Or how Chris was able to get him the comments from all the places they were streaming to! If you want to view it more quickly, click on the "gear" image, you can change the speed. Steven is talking fast but I still listened at 1.75x speed.)
He offers so much good advice and experience in this video. And he walks through real-life solicitations nonprofits are planning on sending. You'll love it.
Fundraising Tips to Share with Your CEO and Board Members
One of the phrases Steven keeps using it encouraging us to "lean into donor generosity." I love his constant reminder that nonprofits are needed now more than ever. Donors get that. And are currently giving to it. That giving will slow but right now is a time to be asking.
Some other nuggets he says are:
- Your donors are amazing and they want to help.
- Let them decide what is relevant and important to them.
- Crisis giving spikes and then slows. The slowing isn't about donor fatigue. It's about donor inattention and about the nonprofit's fundraising irrelevance.
- Now is not the time to fundraise for the future. Fundraise for the crisis now.
- Your job is to clearly state how your beneficiaries or your organization are being impacted by this situation. And how the donor can help.
- If your most pressing issue is a shortfall in fundraising, tell the donor.
- Send the emergency email. Resend it to people who didn't open it. Send it again. Send it every other day.
- Keep asking until the data tells you to stop. NOT until your feelings tell you. When the appeals stop working, that's the data telling you to stop.
- There are still LOTS of older people who haven't given because they don't give to emails. If you can get a letter out this week do it.
- $25 is a low ask in an email. Average online gifts for many nonprofits is $80, $90, or even $100.
- Don't let your unease with asking take a chance to make an impact away from a donor.
- Now is NOT the time to send an "update on how we're responding to Covid-19." That is irrelevant to donors. Share a current need that they can act on.
And one of my favorites: in moments like we're in pretty good and fast will raise more money than perfect later. Reaching donors now is far better than waiting until things have calmed down. And even better than waiting until you get the wording 100% perfect.
Asking is full of integrity
What I love the most is that all of this is done in with complete integrity. You're only sharing the immediate impact that this crisis is having. And you're letting donors make the decision.
So go ask now, even in a time of this Covid-19 coronavirus. And only stop when the data indicates it. Not one lone angry donor or comment. Giving helps donors get some sanity in these uncertain times. So be sure to ask.
Need to know what to do because your fundraising event was canceled? The "shortfall" messaging Steven uses works. If you want more alternatives for a canceled fundraising event, check out the Nonprofit Academy training by Samantha Swaim and Kristin Steele. NPA members can access that training at: https://thenonprofitacademy.com/trainings/canceled-fundraising-event-solutions/