Lessons We’ve Learned from COVID-19
As fundraising consultants at RBW, we can safely say there’s never been anything like COVID-19. We’ve helped our clients with crisis management over the years, but nothing can compare you for a situation as drastic as a pandemic.Since the outbreak began, we’ve been working with clients to help them transition into this new reality, while simultaneously trying to maintain fundraising momentum. Some organizations are going through a survival crisis, while others are working to raise additional funds needed to match the increase in demand for their services.
At RBW, we’re using a combination of past crisis management experience and creativity to help organizations navigate through these troubling times. Below are some important lessons we’ve learned during COVID-19.
- Communicate regularly. This is the perfect time to create effective donor communication strategies and reach out to donors who have given to you this year. Say thanks for their support,and inform them about what your organization is doing during this time. Make sure you’re utilizing a variety of channels, including email, letters, virtual webcam meetings, etc. You also want to make sure your direct donors know how to get to your online giving emergency fund, and your supporters should be aware of the COVID-19 stimulus package if they aren’t already. And when it comes to your staff, consider creating employee rallies, checking in with them regularly, and holding regular board meetings to keep them informed and engaged in fundraising efforts.
- Follow the plan. You can’t plan for everything, and saying things are uncertain right now is a bit of an understatement. But having scenarios identified and creating actionable steps in the event of a crisis can help a ton. Even though the world is changing rapidly, don’t feel like you need to update your crisis plan every 5 seconds. As long as you have a general outline for how to handle crises, you’ll be ok! At the end of the day, those who plan ahead will be ahead of the curve when this crisis is over.
- Good leadership is critical. Troubling times like these require top-down direction from leadership. It’s important that leaders are able to act quickly and decisively, and have a good handle on short term and long-term plans. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of hard choices to make right now, and leaders need to be confident in their decisions. During this time, leaders should be evaluating revenue streams, bottom lines, minimizing cost, and maximizing effort where needed. Leaders should also be speaking transparently, opening up the floor for employees and donors to express their questions, concerns, and challenges.
- Don’t forget your mission. Particularly in times of stress, it’s important to re-establish your mission statement and values. After all, this guides your decision-making and communication processes! It’s hard to excuse your values during troubling times, but it’s not impossible. This will show donors your organization is strong enough to weather the storm.
It’s important we keep these crisis management lessons top of mind as we move forward in this unprecedented business landscape. That way when the pandemic dissipates, nonprofits are able to help people recover and sustain our communities.