Donor relationships matter. They are likely to be more important than ever as nonprofits wrap up the current fiscal year and prep for FY21 fundraising.
Like many of your fundraising colleagues, you may be stressing over what the near future holds for revenue and new donor acquisition. Fears over the economy given the stock market’s demise last week and uncertainty surrounding the spread of the coronavirus, coupled with a contentious primary election season in what is surely to be a headline-dominating election year are worrisome indeed.
So, what should fundraisers do as they plan for upcoming campaigns between now and the end of the summer and beyond?
1. Reassure your donors by continuing to focus on core mission and values.
In a world that feels a little out of control, people are going to want to feel they can make a difference by supporting the organizations they care about the most.
There will be many distractions and competition for donor dollars will be high. Donors shouldn’t have to pick their way through new arguments for giving. Rather, fundraisers should harness their energy into finding new and more assertive ways to gather donors around values they already understand and believe in.
2. Get social!
In this politically charged climate, Americans will be active on social media. And while there will be a lot of noise, the comfort of mission and impact-oriented messages from and opportunities to engage with causes people are passionate about can serve as the perfect respite.
It’s also important to give donors an opportunity to support your organization in as many ways as possible, so open up all channels of giving and offer all ways of giving, whether it is a traditional one-time gift through check or credit card, monthly giving through various methods, a Facebook fundraiser, or even supporting through gifts in-kind.
3. Stay aggresive, but minimize risk.
Too many nonprofits have suffered the consequences of cutting back on acquisition in uncertain times. This is not the time for that. You’ll be playing catch-up for years. Recruit new donors to your cause by giving them something to believe in and by demonstrating impact. Video can be a very successful channel for delivering emotional messages.Times like these also call for focusing on tried and true practices and the use of controls in campaigns.
Minimize risk by sticking with messages and tactics that are proven winners. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test but be smart about your testing protocol and don’t fall for silver bullet fads.
Ask amounts should be appropriate for the times, too. Use modeling and data analysis to know which donors have the propensity to do more, but don’t push the mass donor audience too hard.
4. Be agile.
They say timing is everything, so prepare ahead so you are ready to respond to donor needs and changing headlines. The more flexibility you place into your program, the better chance you have at being relevant and surviving through distracting times.
Digital channels afford you the chance to react quickly and to even be proactive in your donor communications. Use them drive deeper engagement and dialogue with your audiences, and to meet your donors where they are.
Monitor results closely and often and do everything you can to see the trends in real time. Focus on metrics that identify value and efficiency in your program. Retention is key to weathering the storm, so don’t let your donors slip away.
The silver lining in all of this is that after the last national election, nonprofits saw unprecedented results in 2017. So, while we tread lightly now, you should be ready to hit the gas pedal when the dust clears in early 2021. And that means developing plans according to either outcome.
In the meantime, focus all your energy on maintaining and growing your donor relationships. Happy fundraising!