All businesses, including nonprofits, are feeling the impact of the economic downturn and ever-changing COVID-19 precautions. Businesses are shutting down, people are out of work, and traditional nonprofit fundraising methods are compromised.
As the economy slowly reopens, there is no time more crucial than now to keep your nonprofit up and running. Your community needs your help. It is time to adapt in service and find new ways to think about fundraising. To thrive and survive moving forward, your nonprofit must take this current crisis as an opportunity to get creative in fundraising to achieve your organization's goals and serve your clients better.
To effectively fundraise for your organization, you must understand exactly what you offer. Your services should change and adapt to the needs of your community.
Changing entrenched actions and activities can be difficult, but focus on why you started your nonprofit. You wanted to help those in need. As peoples' needs change, alter your activities to reflect the ongoing issues around you. When people share your goals, they will be more inclined to support the mission through donations or services.
If you work with the homeless, you might see if you can offer COVID testing. If you're an animal shelter, maybe you can offer adoption services for the pets of people who can no longer afford to take care of them. If you're an environmental group, you can expand your services to include ending environmental racism.
Don't just chase trends. Talk to your community and find out what their actual needs are. If 2020 has shown us anything, it's that there's no shortage of issues for nonprofits to address.
Embrace New Tech Tools
Social distancing precautions have fundamentally changed how we communicate, and we must keep up with technology to maintain efficacy. It's crucial that your entire team learn to master online meeting platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts to communicate with funders.
New technology can also help raise funds directly. Many small donations can be just as effective and worth your time as one or two large ones. A fundraising app can be a powerful tool for your organization, allowing people to quickly and easily contribute micropayments. Over time, these small donations add up.
One example of a fundraising app is offered by the Live Give Save Foundation.
"Donor behaviors [are] evolving, " said Live Give Save Foundation founder Susan Langer. "People became motivated more by causes and less by loyalty to specific organizations. As connectivity grows, we respond better to peer suggestions than to traditional marketing methods."
You can spread the word to people that care about your cause through social media. If you have team members or volunteers skilled in marketing, communications, or fundraising, have them collaborate to effectively tell your story. Make sure you always include your donation link so as many eyes can see it as possible.
You can post about your efforts to adjust to current issues. The more timely the issues are, the more people will pay attention. Have a unique voice through your photos and posts to illustrate your goals and mission. This can also help you connect to potential new volunteers.
Communicate With Donors
Communication is one of the keys to success at any time. In times of uncertainty, hedge your bets by overcommunicating. Be clear and certain in existing relationships with donors. Your approach when reaching out to funders needs to show your understanding of any changes they themselves are going through.
Businesses that you relied on for donations may be shutting down or struggling financially. To help out donors in this economic state, you can emphasize the impact of smaller, more consistent contributions compared with one large gift given all at once. Be straightforward with them about why the community needs your organization during this time and how their donations would make an impact.
Reach out and find new donors, but make sure you invest in your current donors to keep those relationships up to date and healthy. You can grow donor relationships by checking in on them, thanking them for their past donations, and being transparent about your needs while acknowledging their own possible financial struggles.
Collaborate With Other Nonprofits
They say two minds are better than one. Maybe a new collaboration with another nonprofit organization or business can lead to a better angle on the issues and needs you're trying to meet. You could even join a coalition of nonprofit groups that share interests with yours. Nonprofit coalitions can amplify your organization's voice to legislators and funders.
People coming together in these troubling times will help foster the community mindset needed to make positive change. Each organization has its own strengths from its specific mission. Coming together will help all work together in different ways.
Show Generosity With Grant-Writing
Even with everyone tightening their belts, the grantmaking well has not run dry. Many funders are even opening up entirely new grants to support nonprofits through the coronavirus crisis; you just need to know where to look. You can find this grant money and apply through official websites such as grants.gov for government funds. Other organizations can be found with a bit of Google searching.
An unfortunate recent trend is nonprofits fighting for grants and overprotecting their resources amid fear of loss. While this behavior is certainly understandable during an economic crisis, there may be more to gain by showing generosity and building relationships with other organizations. To help the greater community, nonprofits in strong financial standing may even help direct grants to those struggling. Use the power of relationships to get others connected to donors. In turn, others may help direct donors to you.
These might feel like risks to your own organization, but in the long term, generosity and sharing in the grant-writing world will benefit the whole nonprofit community.
Find What Works for You
In these troubling times, all nonprofits are under pressure to find answers and solve fundraising issues as soon as possible. While keeping donations coming in is always a priority, take time to evaluate your fundraising techniques to see what works best for your organization.
Adjust strategies as you go to maximize their full potential. If a particular social media strategy, whether it's a posting style or the content itself, isn't producing the results you hoped for, try out different methods to find your voice. Certain styles work better for different types of nonprofits. The content of those helping the homeless in their city might be effective in different ways than an organization assisting those with disabilities.
Work Toward the Future You Want
With the economy slowly opening back up, look to the future when planning strategies to fundraise. Methods of fundraising have changed, but the importance and goals behind them have not.
Despite current economic struggles, the funding is out there for those who can make the necessary course corrections to pursue it. People's desire to help and give back to their community has only become stronger. It's up to you to show them why your organization can benefit from their generosity and make real differences.
Our Learning Center has plenty of resources to shed more light on nonprofit organization formation, the role of nonprofits in a pandemic, and real examples of organizations serving their communities through this crisis. Use our Learning Center as a resource and make sure you and your organization are poised for fundraising success as the economy finally opens back up.