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5 Fundraising Myths & Facts During the COVID-19 Crisis

March 24, 2020, Scott Koskoski

This 5-minute read could change the course of your organization’s financial landscape in the weeks to come! Read on for key steps you can take today to raise funds and rally the community.

Myth: Donors won’t want to give because they’re worried. 
Fact: Philanthropy-minded people always want to give. Always. 

It won’t feel like it, but you will be knocking on an open door. The reasons why people give do not change. They will continue to want to give – money, time and/or feedback. People who are philanthropically minded, with their hearts pointed toward problems, continue to give in whatever way they can even when they themselves are worried or have less to give. And because the act of doing good will become even more public and front-of-mind, those who are motivated by sharing their acts of goodwill with others, or by being recognized for their generosity, will have even more reason to support you.

Myth: If my organization isn’t directly supporting coronavirus efforts, it’s not worthy right now.
Fact: This pandemic affects everything, everyone and everywhere. You’re just as relevant in your own way.

No matter where you are and what the focus of your organization is, don’t hold back from asking. Don’t assume people can’t or won’t give. Present them with ways they can do something to help through your organization. Show the difference you are making. No doubt, you’ve got trust from your donors already and a track record of impact — now’s the time to make that clear. What’s something you’re doing that is adjacent to the crisis, and how do you have financial need related to that? It’s not irrelevant. It’s not a small need or an insignificant ask. Never say “no” for the donor! 

Myth: I don’t need to change up my website and social media all that much right now.
Fact: Your digital presence IS your presence right now.

As fundraising events and public gatherings continue being canceled, and as stay-at-home orders become the new normal, everyday, person-to-person fundraising will become harder to carry out. Which means your website and presence online are rapidly becoming your main and most important presence to your supporters and to the public. Especially if your physical location would ever be forced to close to the public, your web and social presence is literally your identity. So how do you make those assets work even harder for you?

Your online presence is where you talk about your organization’s response to the current situation. It’s how you inspire and reassure your supporters and audience. Look hard at your homepage and think about what — for the time being — you can remove from that page or other popular pages so that your fundraising asks become clearer. How can you involve or showcase your supporters to show what others are doing to support you in this time of great need? Put your web team in the “essential” category! 
Myth: We should still continue with all of our current fundraising and engagement channels.
Fact: Less is more at this point. Protect your backyard.

This time of adversity will give rise to many new fundraising ideas and platforms. You’ll no doubt get pitched to from plenty of vendors promising unforeseen results. By all means explore those that you choose to make time to explore, but you might want to adopt the default position of ‘no thank you’ at this time. Stick to what you know works – which is often the basics. Activities that looked urgent and essential last week can, in fact, wait. What will definitely protect your organization’s income? Who needs to do what to achieve that? Simplify your to-do lists, simplify your development plan, and protect your core income to the greatest extent possible. This may not be the year you set fundraising records. That’s OK. There’s not going to be a Board of Directors in the world that doesn’t understand why you didn’t. But what nobody will understand is why simple “blocking and tackling” — the simple acts of stewardship, communicating and asking for needs that still exist — wasn’t completed. 

Bonus tip: Remember that volunteers can still fundraise for you! In fact, many of your volunteers have more time than usual on their hands these days. Inspire and ask them to carry on fundraising for you in their inimitable and creative ways. Build your fundraising movement! 

Myth: This isn’t the time for collaboration. We’re all just trying to survive. 
Fact: Collaboration is probably more necessary than ever.

All fundraisers and charities are facing this problem. We need to talk to other organizations, avoid overlap, support and participate in existing networks and collaborative groups. This could be other charities, fundraising networks, or businesses. That collaborative, multi-organization venture that seemed like such a good idea 6 months ago? It still is. Resist the temptation to put it on the back burner. Donors, businesses and foundations would especially be pleased now to see evidence of small and medium-sized organizations collaborating with each other to bring needed services to the community.

What tools and messaging are you using to raise funds? Leave a comment or email so we can pass on successful strategies to your colleagues in the field.

More must-read blogs
4 Mantras for Messaging Your Commuinity About COVID-19
Animal Welfare Funding During Coronavirus

About Scott Koskoski
Scott Koskoski is the founder and principal consultant at Carpe Diem Fundraising, where he partners with local, national, and international organizations to increase fundraising and engagement production, evolve staff and board both culturally and professionally, and strengthen their value propositions. Scott has enjoyed a 22-year journey as a frontline fundraiser, campaign director, and nonprofit leader. Scott’s experience focuses on major and principal gifts, board engagement, strategic planning, and coaching anyone with a desire to elevate their impact.

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