How to Engage Funders During COVID-19: Tips and Best Practices
COVID-19 has forced us to think outside the box when it comes to fundraising. In a time where face-to-face interactions are unsafe, it’s essential for fundraisers to adopt new strategies for engaging donors and potential supporters. While virtual Zoom meetings or phone calls aren’t ideal, there are still plenty of ways to build and maintain relationships with your funders and donors.
In order to navigate these changes, it’s important you know your donors well, and use that understanding to help shape your approach. Here are a few steps to get you started.
Show genuine empathy. Check on your donors like you are checking in on your friends and family. Ask how they’re coping with the situation and let them know you’re here if they need anything. These small but meaningful interactions can go a long way. In a time where we’re all trying to ‘figure it out,’ you never know what ideas you might be able to brainstorm together. While we’re all trying to maintain our businesses, this is also a time to take a step back and connect with others on a human level; because we all need it.
Have leadership communicate with funders. Funders / donors want to hear a president’s or CEO’s perspective on the crisis and what their plans are for moving forward. In that respect, it’s also important to consider what channel your leaders are using to communicate, and how you’re framing your message on each of those channels. For example, email is typically used for more formal communications, while social media serves a more human to human interaction, where you can reach people quickly and take immediate action. Bottom line is, be clear and concise with your messaging, and leverage each channel effectively.
In addition to ensuring you’re maximizing your channels correctly, you may also want to create separate messages for separate groups. For example, if you have major donors or prospects that you’re looking to capture, you may want to craft a more in-depth message and ask for their thoughts or reactions. You might also consider hosting investor calls with smaller groups or donors and friends to update them on how you’re responding to the challenges at hand, and add in some reassurance about the long-term goals to come.
Highlight your expertise. A great way to stay close to your donors and prospects is to show them how their donations are helping to support COVID-19 efforts. Nonprofits often hire experts and create resources that are only possible with support from a donor. So if you can show how their donations are helping support COVID-19 efforts, you’re more likely to gain the support, respect, and action by donors.
Stay hands-on with content. It’s important during this time to keep the conversation moving in any way you can. Consider holding web conferences, hosting webinars that facilitate conversation, or asking thought-provoking questions on social media. If donors can tell you’re actively participating in the conversation and staying on top of trends doing COVID-19, your credibility will improve drastically.
We know this is a tough time and it seems like the pandemic will never end. But it won’t last forever, and we encourage you to keep the momentum going with donors by crafting clear and thoughtful plans.
Need help receiving support from donors? RBW Strategy can help! We can assist with prospect research, grant writing, grant management, and more. Find the contact us form at the bottom of our website, or visit our services page for more info.