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Nonprofit fundraising during times of uncertainty requires creativity, communication

Successful fundraising campaigns and initiatives support a nonprofit’s mission through the good times and bad. 

During times of crisis, though, fundraising can be a challenge. Potential donors may be facing financial or personal hardships of their own. Foundations may be more cautious when awarding grants. More charitable causes are vying for a limited pool of resources. 

Don’t give up! 

Charities that cultivated and nurtured relationships with donors over the years have laid a strong foundation to weather any challenge. Fundraising may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals found that more than half of U.S. charitable organizations expect to raise less money in 2020. An equal percentage believe the same will occur in 2021. 

Since 1992, Priority Marketing has delivered solutions through recessions, real estate boom and bust, multiple hurricanes, stock market dips and the COVID-19 pandemic. Each time, the firm helped nonprofits develop unique and innovative ways to continue connecting with donors. 

For nonprofit organizations, it’s important to stay relevant and impactful while still being strategic. Priority Marketing offers these five tips to help nonprofits fundraise during challenging climates: 

Mission forward  

It’s easy for nonprofits to get caught up handling immediate needs during a difficult period. However, that’s not the time to stop fundraising and turn your attention elsewhere.  

What were your goals prior to the challenge? How were you planning to reach those goalsReview your strategic business and marketing plans so you can align on the next steps. 

What additional needs have popped up? List each one, then outline a clear goal. For example, a recession might have caused more people to turn to food banks. That food bank then has to serve twice as many meals per week. The organization should map out a plan to raise philanthropic support to meet that increase need. 

Strategic plans ensure your time and donor dollars are used in the most efficient and effective ways. 

Be transparent and communicative  

When times grow tough, you shouldn’t pretend everything is OK. Don’t disregard the fact that people are adjusting and adapting to a new reality. This is when we should relate to each other as humans on a personal level. Authenticity and transparency go a long way in cultivating and sustaining trust in our relationships. 

Reach out to donors. Call them, text them and email them. Check in and ask for assistance, letting people know about your needs so they can help. As the old adage says, “You’ll never know if you don’t ask.” Those that have the ability to give will support organizations that clearly and effectively illustrate their needs. 

Call on advocates  

Board members are there to support you. They are your greatest advocates. Ask them to discuss current and projected needs of the organization with those who have the financial means to help. This is where your strategic plans come into place. Show donors that your team is willing and ready to help the community while clearly outlining how they can step up to help. 

Some supporters might not be able to donate. However, they can still help your cause. Ask them to share your messages on social media, invite friends to volunteer or write handwritten notes of appreciation. Every little bit makes a difference in engaging, soliciting and thanking donors. 

Stay in the know  

When the challenge hit, were you planning an in-person fundraising event? Or were you in the middle of a capital campaign? You aren’t the only nonprofit facing this situation. See how other organizations are pivoting during this time. If they’re hosting virtual events, see what platforms they are using. If they launched a text-to-give campaign, see if it’s successful.  

Explore fundraising options that align with your goals while still creating a personalized and memorable experience for donors.  

Don’t sacrifice best practices  

Consistent, personal stewardship of donors offers the best opportunity for another gift. When COVID-19 canceled in-person fundraising events, for example, many organizations turned to virtual events. It’s important to not sacrifice best practices when fundraising activities change venues or formats.  

Gratitude is key during challenging times. Take time to extend genuine and heartfelt messages of thanks to donors, regardless of the size of their gift. Call them on the telephone, write a note or send a personalized and impactful email. It’s extremely important to share the impact that donor contributions are having on your organization. 

Are you a nonprofit looking to strategically and effectively engage your donors and supporters? Call Priority Marketing today at 239-267-2638 or email info@PriorityMarketing.com 


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