As fundraising events typically garner large in-person groups of donors and supporters, many nonprofits are postponing and canceling their fundraisers in hopes of recouping those contributions at a later time. While at first glance, this seems like a smart solution, the long-term effects of these decisions might not pay off like organizations hope.
In what might seem like the darkest of times for nonprofits, technology can provide a beaming light. When social distancing is at a high, technology allows people to be closer than ever and help without fear. Properly harnessing the capability of technology can enable organizations to maintain sponsorship and donations at a time of year, when it’s always anticipated and appreciated, and now, more than ever, desperately needed for many organizations.
The following solutions can be valuable fundraising strategies for nonprofits struggling to maintain donor contributions during the COVID-19 disruption.
Be transparent with the amount you typically receive from your traditional in-person event. Share how you use those funds and what impact a lack of funding would have on your organization’s mission.
Share your messaging across social platforms. In times of crisis, the public is more apt to give to others in need. Extending your message to the masses can gain the attention of new donors as well. In the long-run, this can be an added revenue stream if nurtured correctly and grow your repeat donor base.
The Monmouth County Historical Association created the campaign “Remembering COVID-19” that asks the public to share photos and experiences during this time. While they are not directly asking for donations, they created a campaign that engages with their donor audience and makes them feel like they have a hand in writing history. The campaign also ties to the Association’s purpose and uses the crisis as a way to raise its visibility. These are all things that build goodwill and subtly encourage donors to give. It also creates a desire to visit the Monmouth County Historical Association in the future, which is an added revenue stream the Association depends on and will need as time goes on.
Online bidding also creates a sense of interaction and community – something lacking as many individuals find themselves working remotely. By holding an interactive event online, you create an outlet of excitement and normalcy amidst the noise of the pandemic.
The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association created a 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Online Auction to generate funding. As a bonus, when the world reacclimates to normal travel and socializing, winners have a getaway already paid for and planned.
While the goal of using technology is to sustain your contributions, you’re also remaining visible and keeping your mission as a top focus for your donors. In the event you choose to postpone or cancel your event, you may find your organization struggling later on down the road.
Acting now eliminates organizations competing with one another for donor support at a later date. At this time, it appears postponed events will take place during the fall when a majority of other nonprofits hold their annual fundraising events. Many organizations also hold multiple events throughout the year, which may mean you will find you’re competing against yourself for additional donor contributions at a later date.
Realizing that it’s better to engage with your donor base when they’re typically used to it is how nonprofits can position themselves to better weather this storm. While the reason for the campaigns or events might be new to your organization, make sure you still follow the fundraising basics when executing these non-traditional events. Applying these approaches to current spring events is a safer and more strategic way of maintaining contributions. Even if the amount received is less than your traditional expectation, it’s better than losing out on contributions altogether.
Please reach out to a member of Withum’s Not-for-Profit, Education and Government Services Team if you are looking for help in executing a digital fundraising campaign or event.
For additional insights to help you and your organization during this challenging time, visit Withum’s COVID-19 Resource Center.