Coronavirus: How to Shift Your Nonprofit’s Strategy

The following is a guest post from Kindful, a fundraising and donor management software that will help you understand your donors like never before.

At Kindful, we recently surveyed our database to find out how the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting nonprofits and their ability to fundraise through events. Of the 702 nonprofit professionals who took the survey, 87.6% of respondents shared that they had planned to host an event in the next 3-4 months. Of the 615 professionals who had planned to host an event, 68.1% had already canceled or were planning to cancel the event.

With social distancing recommendations and stay-at-home measures being implemented in several cities and states, nonprofit organizations are having to rethink their fundraising and event strategies. With things changing so rapidly, many nonprofits are scrambling to figure out how to adjust their plans in order to make up revenue that they were counting on from those events.

Here’s what we recommend for nonprofits that are looking to shift their strategy in light of the coronavirus outbreak:

1. Review your fundraising plan.

First, review your original fundraising plan. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Were we planning to throw any events? If so, which events will we have to cancel?
  • How much money were we planning to raise at those events?
  • Is there another way we can connect with donors and ask them to support our mission in lieu of holding those events?

When you set out to create your 2020 fundraising plan, there’s no way you could have predicted this global pandemic. That said, our current situation doesn’t mean you have to completely do away with everything you had planned.

This is the time to shift your thinking from in-person events to virtual fundraising opportunities like peer-to-peer fundraising. Look at your events, review the different types of virtual fundraisers, and adapt your plan to include those if you can.

Another important thing to do is to have a back-up plan for events you have planned for later this year. No one knows how this situation will continue to evolve so it’s smart to have a plan for if you have to cancel those events too.

2. Track your successes and failures.

One of the best things you can do in times like these is to be flexible. That flexibility will allow you to change course if you see something is particularly successful. It’ll also show you what isn’t resonating with your audience at this time.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when reviewing your fundraising and communication efforts:

  • What social media posts have performed well?
  • What emails have the highest open and engagement rates?
  • Is there particular messaging that is resonating with our audience?
  • What has felt like a success?
  • What isn’t working that we can avoid doing in the future?

By paying attention to these things in the present, you’re setting yourself up for a better chance of success in the future.

3. Listen to your supporters.

One of the most important things you can do in times like these is to listen to your supporters. See what messages are resonating with them. See what is compelling them to donate. See if a certain message is falling flat or causing them to unsubscribe. Study the marketing trends that other nonprofits are employing at this time.

Here are a few ways you can find out what your donors are thinking:

  • See which messages are resonating with them via likes, retweets, shares, or comments on social media and which emails they’re opening.
  • If you’re wondering what they’re thinking, you can reach out and ask them to share their thoughts on this time and what they would like to see. Keep in mind that they’re likely being affected by the virus too and use an appropriate tone when communicating with your audience.
  • Track where your donations are coming from and see if you can pinpoint what is motivating your donors to give.

4. Evaluate the sustainability of your efforts.

We already mentioned the importance of looking ahead to the rest of your events this year, but now we want to encourage you to think more broadly about the sustainability of your fundraising plan.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are we relying too much on in-person events?
  • If our in-person events get canceled, will we be able to fund our organization and fulfill our mission?
  • What can we do to make up money we would’ve raised from events that were canceled or may be canceled?
  • What are other fundraising opportunities we can work into our plan that don’t involve seeing our donors in person?

If you’re worried about how this crisis will affect your fundraising goals, we want to leave you with one note of hope. We compared the week of March 15 to an average week in 2020 and found that online gifts made through Kindful’s online fundraising tools are up by 163.74%. Total gifts given during that time increased by 152.64%.

As you can see, people are still being generous with their funds. All you have to do is rethink your strategy and see how you can invite them to support your mission in a new way this year.

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