Phasing in Your Fundraising

May 21, 2020 | All Posts, From The Partners, Fundraising Counsel

By Susan Ross.

Now that North Carolina has begun its phased reopening, you may be looking at how this applies to your fundraising efforts.

The nonprofit community has responded in extraordinary ways during this time, with dedicated staff and volunteers doing all they could to serve clients, maintain programs, and raise money when able. In the process, nonprofits realized which services were most critical to clients, and many were able to pivot when they saw a service gap that they could fill. Going forward, this pandemic-induced clarity is an opportunity for change as nonprofits review missions, collaborations, and impact in the community.

Importantly, whether or not you have been actively fundraising during the past few months, you need to start getting back up to speed soon.

Like everything else in our lives, fundraising activity will fall into phases. While the timeline may differ for each nonprofit, here is our sense of the sequence for opportunities ahead:

Pause (Check this one off!)
• Take care of your staff and clients
• Demonstrate extreme stewardship with key donors, volunteers, alumni, and board members
• Prioritize internal projects such as portfolio and data clean-up

Phase 1: Reawakening
• Review your portfolio and restart pre-March gift conversations
• Complete 2019-20 annual giving campaigns – call your LYBUNTS
• Act quickly to communicate mission and gratitude with new donors gained during the crisis
• Reflect on the pandemic experience: How will you articulate your nonprofit’s strengths and needs to donors?
• Plan for the rest of 2020 using alternate scenarios as planning frameworks

Phase 2: Reengaging
• Develop donor strategies, start cultivating again
• Review pipelines – talk to those donors most likely to give
• Talk about estate planning – the pandemic has made this a more accessible topic
• Resume your work with volunteers – they will be ready
• Take the temperature of your community members about their preferences for in-person events
• Adjust your strategic plan for the next 12-18 months, and build in frequent checkpoints – no one has a crystal ball right now

Phase 3: Reigniting
• Make time for active solicitation
• Submit donor proposals and carefully begin personal visits
• Incorporate messaging about how the pandemic has focused your nonprofit’s mission, and be very clear about your needs and the difference you make
• Review your timelines and goals regularly, and adjust as needed – be willing to make changes as things continue to evolve

As we have said all along, don’t miss the recovery by pausing too long. Your donors care about you and your mission, so let them be part of your solution. You must ask – for advice, for support, for money – or donors may interpret that you are ok and will move their gifts elsewhere.

Let us know if we can help you navigate through these critical phases.