What's Working with Fundraising Right Now

Jun 1, 2020Donor Communication, Fundraising, Leadership, Message, Nonprofits, Philanthropy, Relationships

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What’s working with fundraising right now?

Fundraising Right Now: Addressing Needs

While it seems we are far from a recovery in this virus crisis, there’s already a clear difference and a meaningful distinction in fundraising.

Nonprofits are getting right to the heart of addressing their problems and needs. And doing it with clarity and intention and great creativity. Without question, nonprofits are being resourceful.  

You have problems to solve and needs to address. There is no time for fluff . . . or abandonment. That is, if you want to survive and stay relevant.


Fundraising Right Now: Remove the Excess

No doubt, this virus has forced nonprofits to remove the excess – removing anything redundant, needless, or inessential — anything not contributing to or furthering their mission

Now, one of the worst mistakes a nonprofit can make is to eliminate fundraisers and their ability to effectively raise money for their organization. Fundraisers – whether CEO, executive directors, development directors — are vital to securing funds for programs that serve, enhance, and heighten our communities.

As nonprofits rebuild and rethink their mission and programs, they are trimming the “unnecessaries” — the broken areas. Maybe changes have been avoided because it’s always been done this way or no one wanted to upset the apple cart!

As an example, I remember as a new development director trying to change a publication. I was met with great resistance. I was told by senior staff, “no — we’ve always done it this way.” Indeed, you may have heard those horrifying words before yourself!


Fundraising Right Now: Time to Assess and Rebuild

Clearly, this crisis has caused nonprofits to reflect and shift their strategies to a mode of “let’s get it done,” “let’s focus on what matters,” “let’s use this time to rethink, assess, and rebuild.” That’s a good thing! 

It is heartbreaking to see so many nonprofits struggling at this time, watching their budgets get decimated, and cutting staff — and with no end in sight as this crisis drags on.

This is more than a virus crisis. Above all, it’s an opportunity — an opportunity to do better.

Let’s turn our attention to nonprofits that are surviving, adjusting, and getting results with their fundraising efforts.


Fundraising Right Now to be Successful

Let’s look at what fundraisers are doing right to be successful in these extraordinary times. Here are six areas of focus. Let’s take a look.

Nonprofits are:


#1. Turning to Friends and Supporters for Help

Your top priority is to your most loyal supporters.

In times of crisis, turn to your most loyal friends and supports for help. They are there to help and want to help you. But you must ask your supporters for their help and support.

#2. Continuing to Check-in on Donors

You are connecting with donors digitally and with great warmth. It’s nice to be able to chat with donors longer these days. Often donors have fewer distractions. You have fewer disruptions. No running off to long, internal meetings or planning that next event. In fact, you're pausing and using this time to check-in on your donors to see how they are doing and managing


#3. Focused on the Human Connection

Fundraising has become more personal and relaxed. That’s also a good thing!

I see fundraisers connecting with donors without heavy jargon, listing accomplishments, and stating formal mission, vision, and case statements. 

Furthermore, you are sending photos and raw video footage, going live on camera, and sharing heartwarming stories of how donors are making a difference.


#4.  Seeing Boards Step Up with More Engagement 

Certainly, it takes time, but all board members should be making calls to donors right now.

Board members don’t have to ask people for money! They can engage in the fundraising process simply by calling donors to simply check-in on them, say thank-you for their support, and bring them up to date on how the nonprofit is faring in this crisis. 

Provide a script to make it really easy for board members to make these calls.


#5. Realizing Retention is a Golden Strategy

Fundraising is first and foremost about relationships. Building and maintaining strong relationships with your donors results in donor retention. You need donors year after year. Absolutely, you want to keep the donors you have!

So in this time of crisis, get on calls with your donors, and have meaningful conversations.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised!


#6. Reminded of the Ask Language

Know how easy it is to say, “Mary, would you consider a gift of $1,000 to XYZ Nonprofit.  Your gift will provide over 1,000 meals to the 5,000 hungry individuals we serve each month now. Our food sources are low, and our demand is extremely high. We need your help.”

Even if you are not serving a critical need in your community, you should be making asks to donors to help you cover your shortfalls. 

When you make an ask, be clear and specific in your ask and let the donor know the impact of their gift. The more specific you are, the more likely the donor will say yes.

Remember, the best way to convert a one-time donor to repeat donor . . . is through the phone. Not through a mass mailing.

No doubt, fundraising right now should be focused on the donor relationship.


Summary: Fundraising Right now – Donors are Responding Right Now

In summary, donors are responding to your asks for support because they want to be a part of a solution — a part of something bigger than themselves — especially right now to causes they believe in.

Most importantly, be as assertive as possible in taking care of your donors, thanking them, and asking them to support your mission. 

Donors want to hear from you.

In conclusion, fundraising is working.


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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