During a crisis like a pandemic, you have to change up what you say to your donors. But what should you do once the crisis is over?
No matter what field you work in, I’m sure the COVID pandemic has had a huge impact on your fundraising this year.
Even if you’re not a frontline or health charity, COVID will still have affected you. You may have had to change the way you work to be COVID-safe; cancel face-to-face campaigns and take events online; find new ways to deliver services and support your beneficiaries.
In response, you may have switched your planned fundraising campaigns for something COVID-related. Perhaps an emergency appeal, asking for extra funds to help your beneficiaries tackle the challenges of lockdown. Or a crisis appeal, to help you make up for the drastic loss of income.
At the very least, I’m sure you added copy to your appeals to acknowledge the extra pressures your donors may be feeling.
Many of our clients have seen an overwhelming response from their donor communities over the last few months.
After all, when they’re feeling worried and helpless, people want something positive to do. They’ve leapt at the chance to support the causes they believe in and make a difference in such a difficult time.
So now what? What should you be telling your donors, once the immediate crisis passes?
1. Right now, people are more engaged than ever. They want to know that they’re part of something bigger. That they can play a part in building a better world.
This is your chance to galvanise them, with optimistic, visionary messaging about the work to come. So don’t hold back on your next appeal. Show your donors how they can help tackle the issues they care so much about. Give them something inspiring to work towards.
2. There’s something else you should be doing now, too, and it’s just as important. Reporting back.
People want to know how you used the money they sent you during the crisis. How did their wonderful support make a difference? How have they helped to make things better? It’s vital that you close the loop and tell them about the impact they’ve had.
It’s even more vital that you THANK them. Tell them how incredible they are. Pass on thanks from your beneficiaries, if appropriate. Give them the chance to feel really good about their generosity and the impact they’re having
3. Now is the time to capture great stories from your supporters or beneficiaries. Lots of people are still at home with time on their hands and may be happy for a chance to chat about their experiences. Use the opportunity to build a story bank for future fundraising appeals, newsletters, and donor care communications.
4. Finally, it’s time to start picking up the pieces. You may have put bequest and acquisition campaigns on hold during the crisis. Or lost a lot of regular donors because of the uncertainty.
Over the coming months, start looking at those programs again. Reach out and ask people if they can renew their regular gift, even if it’s for a lower amount.
Survey your donors to see how they feel about leaving a gift in their Will. If you’re not sure about resuming your bequest campaigns, check out this report on the ethics of legacy fundraising in an emergency.
Above all, keep building relationships with your donors. Show them how important they are. Grow their connection with you and your cause. So you’ll be ready, together, for whatever comes next.