Fundraising in a Time of Crisis

Just like nonprofits, all crises are unique. There are differences today than with other crises. Social distancing definitely crimps (but doesn’t stop) your ability to build relationships. Not being able to do business as usual for long periods is also challenging. But these are challenges not full stops that put an end to what your nonprofit does.

This ebook is focused on fundraising in a crisis—today’s and tomorrow’s. Not everything I’m suggesting will be for every crisis. For example, we will talk about what to do if you have had to cancel your most important special event. This is reality today. This crisis affects all of us; some—particularly natural disasters—only touches a certain segment of the population. But all disturb business as usual. Fundraising is never easy. Fundraising in a time of crisis carries with it a special set of issues.

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– A Sneak Peak Into “Fundraising in a Time of Crisis”

Take an Inside Look at the Chapters of This eBook:

Chapter 1: Introduction

As I write this, we are in a very real crisis—the Coronavirus crisis—and no one is really sure where things are headed. In Los Angeles, we were advised that this week—the week of April 6, 2020—was one where we might want to skip going to the market. Staying at home—which we’ve…

Chapter 2: Focus on Donors Not Dollars

Much of the fundraising we do is transactional. It focuses on the short term and the purpose is to bring in the dollars. But fundraising that focuses on the donor and builds relationships is what brings in larger gifts. More importantly, it is what develops loyal donors. This is known as…

Chapter 3: When the Best Laid Plans

One of my clients raises almost 70% of their charitable funds from a huge gala they hold at the end of every March. Yep, you guessed this. This March, instead of holding that gala, they were busy cancelling it and scrambling to figure out if they had to return all the money they had already raised—and how they were going to “replace” the money they would have raised in the room.

In the first few weeks of social distancing, there was a lot of talk about taking your…

Chapter 4: Staying Connected

One year, I let my board convince me that instead of going “off-site” we should save money and have our retreat in the same room where we held our board meetings. There was nothing wrong with the room— and I have facilitated many successful retreats in similar settings—but there was a little bit of magic missing.

The commonality of all these stories—and the most important factor in fundraising in a crisis—is to stay connected with your donors, and…

Chapter 5: Foundations, Corporations, and Your Board

Reaching out to your institutional funders during a crisis is also a wise thing to do.

Beyond simply telling them how you are dealing with the crisis and how it is impacting your grant, you might want to ask them if you can move up an application for funding so it can be considered sooner. Likewise, you might want to ask if…

Chapter 6: Your Action Plan

The best laid plans, without a real plan or roadmap to guide you, somehow never seem to get done. Now that you have some ideas about what you can do to fundraise during a crisis, let’s get cracking on creating an action plan so that these things actually get done.

Ideally, this action plan should mesh with your existing written fundraising plan…

Chapter 7: When the Crisis is No Longer a Crisis

Just as most everything comes to an end, so will the crisis. At least for this particular cycle. And then what? Do you stop everything you’ve been doing and go back to business as (what used to be) usual?

One of the things you may have noticed throughout the advice given in this ebook is that is all predicated on two things:

1. Staying connected

2. Being donor-centric

Both of these are so important for a sustainable, successful fund development program.

Chapter 8: Summary

When a crisis hits, it is hard to think beyond what is happening and what is threatening. Fundraising is often the thing that falls furthest behind. Crises present huge challenges to the nonprofit sector—challenges that fundraising is critical to help overcome. While crisis can mean…

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