Most of the society seems to come to a halt these days. Social distancing, shops closed, office work at home, diners stopped providing eat-in service, airlines cutting back capacity, trains trimming schedule, willingness for spending fall. In the midst of all such chaos, nonprofits are feeling the pain and suffering undoubtedly. Large and small organizations alike without exception. Fundraising events canceled, street fundraising yielded almost nothing lately, donor and prospect visits pushed back, donor recognition activities paused, service cessation, coincided with lowered economic momentum. While funding is down sufficiently that saw many organizations are living on their own fat, it isn’t wise if I keep suggesting you do your donor solicitation as nothing had happened under such circumstances. So what should be the focus now, what can be done at present?
For sure, we cannot afford to wait until the rebound. So instead of keep looking outwards seeking for opportunities, it could be the ideal time to look inwards to review what has been kept deferring to complete. What could that be? Here is a list of things that you could look into:
1. Have you thanked your donors lately, or talked to donors, supporters, and veteran volunteers recently? Why not taking this window to ring them to say thank you personally and ask for their input? Not only those major gift donors and/or long term supporters and volunteers but also express your gratitude to those new ones and even monthly donors who give the minimal or new volunteers. I’m pretty sure they have not expected for getting this call and would definitely be impressed. Certainly, this is also aiming to help to strengthen or develop a relationship with them in paving the way for future solicitation.
2. Do you have plans to revamp your newsletter but have been too busy to do so during a good time? Yes, newsletter or even website and other social media revamping is such a headache and requires countless number of hours planning, fine-tuning, reviewing, and so on. Understandably, time could use more productively (at least financially) elsewhere that help generate instant returns during good times. With fundraising activities slowed, when is the better time to reallocate part of your time, brain width to these areas? Yes, it might not able to complete the entire revamping now, but it makes sense to at least paving the groundwork or creating the template for facilitating further actions.
3. Was facelift a particular programme on your radar for quite some time yet without any progress? Or how if you thought of launching a new initiative but being too engaged with managing and running those existing ones before now? Yes, overhauling a programme or launching a new one requires tremendous efforts, resources, coordination, and researches beforehand. One might not have the luxury of sparing a sufficient amount of all these at a good time. The rationale behind this point is similar to the one above concerning redoing the newsletter. Consider lowering demand on the current service or programme, it seems sensible while you won’t be distracted too much by the demand of the existing those.
4. When was the last time you cleaned your database? I’ve always told my clients this is among the most crucial elements in advancing their organizations while also being one of the most neglected elements. Without accurate and meaningful information, how could you do your marketing effectively and efficiently? We talked and heard about big data a lot and your database is where your big data is coming from. Do your database capture the most basic and correct contact information of each of your donor and supporters, their giving/supporting history, their relationship with your organization? What does your database tell you about your donors, supporters, and volunteers? How capable your database is in helping you to segment and target a particular pool of your donors for the next campaign?
Besides, have you thought of utilizing this time for training and reflection in strengthening your internal capacity? Or how about a little temporary job rotation in enabling colleagues from different teams to get familiar with one another’s work and difficulties as a way of bolstering team bonding and improving intra-team coordination?
Of course, I’m not saying you should stop entirely all the fundraising and solicitation works now but that the focus and priority may reshuffle a bit correspondingly to make the most out of this time that helps in developing a lasting and profound capacity for your organization. Surely, some organizations out there require urgent funding for continuing their operations as mentioned earlier. With the withdrawal of funding from many individuals, a lot of corporations, charitable foundations, and family trusts may be the lifeline here and now. Go, talk to them, don’t be shy letting them know what you are encountering, share with them what their urgent fund would do, and how they could be part of the team in supporting those in need in this difficult time. But here comes another fundamental question, has your organization put in any prior effort in cultivating this cluster of prospects?
If you use your time wisely now, there will be high hopes that you will likely come out from the crisis stronger and in better shape for tackling future challenges.
Photo credit: SCMP