The pandemic’s effects do not seem to be easing. We are quarantine fatigued, still social distancing, and, even in states which are re-opening, we are confronting unemployment rates that have not been seen since the Great Depression. Nonprofits have been furloughing or laying off personnel, and, in some cases, eliminating staff positions, all in an effort to reduce expenses. There are justifiable concerns that donations will be down, membership dues will go unpaid, and pledges may go unfulfilled.
So, what can you do to raise money today?
- If you have not checked in with your donors, members, volunteers and other important supporters, do so ASAP. As with all stewardship, you don’t want every contact to be an ask so just call to check in.
- Consider donor pledges, grant applications and current grants that have yet to be paid. For each commitment due by June 30th, make a phone call. Some will tell you that everything is still on track, some will tell you they cannot honor the commitment, and some may be unreachable because your program officer or donor has been furloughed. If you cannot reach them by phone, then try an email. But remember, this is a time to make a personal connection, not just shoot off a quick note and hope they will give you the $50,000.
- Assess your top 50 donors. Are there any that have yet to give a gift this year? Maybe they gave last in December or, perhaps, they skipped a year? Do you know if they are still able to give a gift this year?
- If you are looking for immediate funds, you can consider asking this group if they could make their gift early this year to help you meet your current, extraordinary needs. The ask should still be based on the essential elements of an ask that you would use at any time of year in any financial climate. Include a story that will humanize your need and what their gift will provide. Specifically:
- Why should they give to you?
- Why should they give to you now?
General need, outside of organizations performing emergency relief, is not enough. They will want to know:
- What services are you currently providing?
- What are your service plans for the next six months – with or without opening your doors?
- What are your financial plans for the next six months – with or without opening your doors?
- Is their gift going to make an impact? That is, if you need $500,000 for the rest of the year, how do you plan on raising the remaining $490,000?
If someone can no longer give or has shifted priorities, do not take it personally or act disappointed. Today, people are split between those who can give and give more right now, and those who will give less or not at all. The only thing you can do is continue to keep a good attitude and keep stewarding, and then, asking your donors. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you will be to receive a donation.
If you have not been strong in stewardship in the past, now is the time to connect with people in addition to the donors you will ask for an early gift. Plant the seeds for long-term growth. If you only focus on the people you are asking for a gift now, you will have no one to ask down the line. In other words, consider how to “raise money today” in six months, a year or many years down the line.