Due to the impact of the Coronavirus, it may seem overwhelming and near impossible to keep your nonprofit running smoothly. All nonprofits have different requirements that are difficult to meet in a time when social interaction is just so limited.
Luckily, however, the vast amount of resources available at people’s fingertips have made it possible for nonprofits to continue some aspects of business as usual. Whatever your nonprofit may be, no matter what kind of work you may be doing, there are two commonalities that almost every nonprofit possess that can help more now more than ever: fundraising and outreach.
Nowadays, most people are primarily thinking about COVID-19 and its impact on the world and our local communities. So, the very first step is to show your donors and community members what your organization is doing to help out during the Coronavirus pandemic. Are you bringing food to quarantined families? Are you caring for the children of healthcare workers, or the at-risk elderly? Are you spreading positivity across the community during this incredibly stressful time?
This is the time to show how you are meeting your mission and still making a difference. While there are a lot of people financially impacted due to the pandemic, and you can’t carry-on large events, there still may be opportunities to look to on-line strategies to bring in much needed funding.
Get Personal with Email Campaigns
For organizations with email campaigns, emails are a great way to connect directly with true donors and supporters. During this time, be personal and present yourself as more than a nonprofit needing funds to stay alive; you are here for the community and for anyone who needs help. Maybe consider creating a positivity email blast, featuring and thanking some of the people in your organization that are having significant impact in the community. Now more than ever, people are looking for hope and a support network they can count on.
From a fundraising standpoint, it could also be beneficial to personalize your emails and mailing lists to best fit that goal. Segment your email list to feature programs or activities that are of the greatest importance or interest to your donors and send out targeted e-mails to each of these segments. Studies have shown that targeted e-mail campaigns are much more effective then broad based campaigns.
For example: The Guide Dog Foundation is urgently looking for donations to ensure that puppies and dogs in foster homes with their volunteers and staff remain healthy and cared for during the Coronavirus quarantine. Everyone understands and is very supportive of the struggles individuals and organizations have to go through these days, so be open and honest about your struggle.
If regular reminders are not your style, pick specific days that are meaningful to your organization to ask for donations. Some ideas include Earth Day, Easter, and peak hospital occupancy days.
Online Fundraising Events, Workshops, and Contests
Just because you can’t bring people physically together does not mean you can’t bring them together in other means. Now more than ever, it is essential for organizations to think of creative and innovative ways to reach the community. Social media, as well as video conference applications like Zoom, have made it possible to continue holding fundraising events from the comfort of people’s homes.
For arts organizations, consider holding virtual art classes or performance shows through a video conference. The Spirit of Huntington Art Center has recently begun virtual art classes for student artists that even offers art supply delivery or curb-side pickup. Some nonprofits have also begun webinars, home “galas” with food delivery, and collaboration sessions for a cover charge that can be transferred through virtual cash apps, such as Venmo. Social media contests are also an option to consider by adding donors into a randomized price raffle or offering shoutouts to people who spread the word about your organization.
Online Donation Forms
Once you have shifted your mission to meet current events, implement a fundraising option(s) that best fits your organization. Most implement online donation forms for donors to fill out conveniently from the organization’s website. This can be implemented by using a donation plugin, which is present on most website builder platforms, with various payment add-ons like PayPal.
Crowdfunding or Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Social media has taken the world by storm and continues to grow its audience due to millions of people being cooped up at home. Crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising could be options for nonprofits, especially those with a large and active following. Your supporters could run a fundraising campaign of their own for your organization, motivate the people in their life and mutual friends to donate, and meet smaller, more personal goals.
For instance, No-Shave November is a known fundraising challenge that involves people not shaving for a month to raise money for cancer research. Inspire your circle to do personal fundraising so the message could be continuously spread between peers. Even encourage fun challenges for them to do; individuals who are sitting at home, bored, may appreciate ways to make their time more fun and charitable.
If you do not have a big social media following, this is the perfect time to do so! If you are already having issues getting donors or attendees for events, increased social media engagement could change the future of your organization and help it thrive through these hard times. There are many online resources and marketing companies out there willing to help nonprofits put their name on the map. Some things you can do to start is figuring out your audience and how to best reach them, as well as interacting with people in the community by commenting, liking, and sharing content.
Some social media platforms also feature great fundraising features that could open-up a greater reach for your organization. Facebook Fundraisers is the most well-known and even allows some charity forms from websites to easily connect to your Facebook platform. Facebook has over one billion users, so this is a great platform for your organization to be widely seen. Facebook Fundraising also promotes people to follow your social media, subscribe to your newsletters, and more.
Most Importantly: Take Advantage of The Time
It is scary for nonprofits of any size to have to limit their services or close their doors indefinitely. But this national hiatus frees up a lot of time for nonprofits to plan for the future. This is the best time to get caught up on those tasks or ideas you kept putting to the side, try something new (and even make mistakes), and evaluate your organization from the inside out.
If your organization is not as popular as you would like it to be, what needs to be improved on? Is the mission unclear? Is low social media engagement the problem? Is your technology up to date? There are massive amounts of questions you can ask yourself and the organization. So, once the fog lifts and the world is back to the new normal, you can dive in with a clear head and a mission for the future.
Kenneth R. Cerini, CPA, CFP, FABFA
Ken is the Managing Partner of Cerini & Associates, LLP and is the executive responsible for the administration of our not-for-profit and educational provider practice groups. In addition to his extensive audit experience, Ken has been directly involved in providing consulting services for nonprofits and educational facilities of all sizes throughout New York State in such areas as cost reporting, financial analysis, Medicaid compliance, government audit representation, rate maximization, board training, budgeting and forecasting, and more.