Whether the COVID-19 virus has affected your organization directly or just peripherally, one thing is certain - these are uncertain times. The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause mass cancellations of schools, meetings and events and the stock market to drop. This may have affected you personally and it may have affected your nonprofit operations. You may have had to cancel fundraisers in an effort not to gather in groups. All of this can mean that your revenue may drop. It can also mean that donors will stop giving as they may be uncertain of their financial situation. Nonprofits may take a short-term fundraising hit, but the current market turmoil could pass quickly – it is still unclear how this virus will affect nonprofit operations, but here are seven suggestions on how nonprofits can continue to thrive in the face of the coronavirus.
- DONOR RELATIONS – Continue to reach out to your current donors and maintain good relationships with them. This is always good advice even without a pandemic. Building relationships with donors ensures that they are committed to giving regardless of the economic climate, disasters, or virus outbreaks. Be sure your donors know how your organization is addressing the current situation and how their donations are being used. The more specific a nonprofit can be, the more the donor will feel like their dollars are making a big difference. It is also important to keep asking for donations. Do not let your constituents lose sight of the fact that your programs and services are still needed despite the current challenges.
- SPENDING – Nonprofits should be frugal during this time and pad their reserves where possible. On the flip side, this also might be the time for some nonprofits to dip into their reserves in order to get through this financial crunch. Postpone buying promotionally branded materials such as pens and mugs and cut back on any frills such as free lunches for staff and volunteers. It is uncertain if a recession is imminent, but it is best to begin adjusting the spending budgets now.
- STAFFING – it may be too soon to consider cutting back on staff, but nonprofits would be wise to consider where they might be able to pull back if needed. This is also not a time for expansion of programs or services unless necessary.
- GO VIRTUAL – If your nonprofit hasn’t leveraged streaming technology, this is a great opportunity to begin. Since many in-person gatherings have been canceled, this is a great time to have virtual events that bring everyone together. If done correctly, using streaming technology, such as Facebook, Skype and Zoom, can provide opportunities to gather without the risk of infection.
- DIGITAL DONATIONS – Now that in-person interactions are down, more folks are connecting through the internet and their phone. Streamlining and demystifying your online donation process can increase your donor reach. More payments are now made through phones than through desktop computers. By offering convenient payment methods like PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, and Zelle you can increase the chances of grabbing more dollars.
- CAMPAIGN STRATEGY - Think about avenues such as a themed donation campaign that can bring awareness and giving to your organization. Tie your organization to established national awareness campaigns. For instance, if your nonprofit promotes mental health utilize “Mental Health Awareness Month” in October.
- ONLINE FUNDRAISERS – Social media fundraisers can be a powerful fundraising tool. Facebook is a proven fundraising platform that your nonprofit can use to its advantage. If your organization has had to cancel a live event, move the party online with a Facebook fundraising event. Be sure to let your donors know that even though the in-person event has been canceled, your organization is committed to the cause and to fulfilling the mission. Let the community know that their continuous support and commitment to the cause is more critical than ever.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months, it is important to not panic. Stay the course, stay true to your mission and carry on helping those in need.