Fundraise During a Crisis: What’s Working?

Oct 21, 2022Fundraising

Fundraise-During-a-Crisis-Whats-Working Fundraising

Are you asking, “how do I continue to fundraise during a crisis?

I received a message last week from a student from my March 2020 class. I offer a seven-week course several times a year in which students go through my six-step process in how to secure major gifts. 

As you know, March turned fundraising on its head!

This message from my student Chris was welcomed news. 

You see, back in March, he was having to decide to cancel the nonprofit’s summer performances touring the United States. This highly selective and competitive musical performing group works all year long just for the summer touring. 

Clearly, not all leaders were ready and equipped to handle this storm. But Chris was.


Fundraise During a Crisis: Record Highs 

Six months after the pandemic was declared, Chris' message to me was . . . they are on track to record their highest giving levels in the past five years, and they will set a new high for the entire 83-year history of their organization.

That’s incredible, right? 

Who reaches record giving highs in a crisis!

No doubt, it’s happening.

Fundraise During a Crisis
: 3 Ways to Succeed 

From my conversation with Chris, here’s why he and his board and staff were successful with fundraising and navigating this crisis:


#1 – Keep Strong Communications with Your Donors

Don’t let up on communication. And certainly, don’t go silent.

In fact, ramp up your communication. 

Chris shared they called their top 50 donors in March and April and just conversed with them. Needless to say, those conversations helped affirm their strategies and confidence in their plans moving forward.

When donors understand and know what’s going on – how you are adjusting to advance your mission – they will want to support you even more!

#2 – Focus on Your Mission, Not the Crisis

“Keep your messaging on the mission, not the crisis,” says Chris. In other words, they never spoke from a position of panic. They kept their focus forward.

Without question, your most loyal donors who can give will give. They believe in the mission and are there for you – most likely when you need them most. Absolutely, they want an opportunity to be a hero — to help save the organization and mission near and dear to them.

Most importantly, stay focused on your mission, and communicate your greatest needs to your donors. 


#3 – Stay Positive

No one, certainly not philanthropists, wants to save a sinking ship — a nonprofit with a “woe is me” attitude. Nonprofit leaders figuring it out are the ones who excite donors. 

Above all, stay positive and stay solutions focused. Creativity is flowing right now. . . and so is funding to nonprofits. 

How you approach problems lets donors know you are serving the mission for the long hall and not throwing in the towel because there is a pandemic and crisis.


Fundraise During a Crisis: Donors Stepping up

In summary, we know this crisis has caused an even wider wealth gap. And the wealthy are giving. They know they must step up and help – and they are.

No question, wealthy donors are supporting their favorite charities —- the ones they have supported in the past.

Consider these three points as you continue to navigate this crisis.

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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