• The Big Lil

5+ Tips for Fundraising in the COVID Era

Some non-profits have seen a surge in donations over the past few months. Others have been left reeling. Even with programs cancelled and other efforts pivoted, the work of non-profits continues. So, how do we keep the doors open?

If your non-profit is reeling, this is the time to dig into fundraising even more – do not shy away from the work. I’ve pulled together some resources to guide you through, but wanted to start with a few guidelines, based on what I’ve been hearing from non-profits:

1. Do not stop fundraising! So many non-profits have made the mistake of going silent, in their fundraising and/or their general communications. You may be concerned about further draining our collective bandwidth, but going silent may raise questions about the health of your org, or worse, let your supporters forget about you. You may need to adjust campaign styles/frequency/format, but do.not.stop. Dig in.

2. Connect first, then ask: Everyone is experiencing the chaos and our world uniquely right now. They may have lost someone close to them, they may have lost their job, they may feel isolated, they may feel afraid. In crafting your campaigns, start by acknowledging the stress that we’re all feeling and create space for your supporters to feel welcomed into and safe in your appeals, before you ask for money. Even better: move away from general appeals and dig into the one-on-one work, to really connect and understand where your base is at – even if they’re not able to donate now, authentic connection now, could result in a stronger relationship later.

3. Be honest: Some non-profits have shied away from communications out of fear that they’re not doing enough, because of the shut-downs. With programs cancelled, they have lost direct avenues for both connection and impact. But, if there is anything we should all take away from this pandemic is that almost anything we can move forward, is good work. Be honest about how your programs have been affected and your plans for bringing them back; talk about what you’re testing/learning in the meantime; and show a little humility about how your resources have been drained.

4. Focus on the long-game: 2020 might not be your year but all of us are in this to affect long-term and system-wide change, so tell that story! Do not lose focus on who you are and what change you are working to build. Just find a way to build some connective tissue between where you are now and where we all want to be down the road.

5. Dig into your donor housekeeping: Honestly, this should be tip #1 but it’s a bit unsexy and I didn’t want to lose you. If your programs are cut and your communications are dry, the best thing you can do for the health of your organization right now is strengthen your foundation: clean up your data, update your CRM, build your organizational tools, dig into board trainings. Whatever it is that you’ve spent the last year (or decade) complaining about, is where your focus should be right now.

Thanks for reading,

Carrie Ferrence, Big Lil Seattle editor

Need more help?

Ariel Glassman has developed two powerful webinars:

Campbell and Company has been releasing a lot of trainings and support for free:

About Big Lil Seattle

Big Lil Seattle launched to share the stories on how Seattle’s small businesses and small non-profits are REALLY fairing in this COVID era: how they’re impacted, pivoting, and planning for next steps. Perhaps, most importantly, we also identify clear steps on how we can all help. 

Big Lil Seattle is a project of The Big Lil, which offers big solutions to help grow your small business or non-profit.

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