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Nonprofit Fundraising Tips in Today’s COVID-19 Environment.  

Test, learn, and adjust!


Fundraising has never been a light-lift for nonprofits, but COVID-19 has made yesterday's development challenges feel like a cake-walk. 


What's on everyone's mind is what the #$%#? And the answer to that one is nobody knows. This pandemic is fluid and changing daily. But we do know that you need to be thinking more creatively about how you keep your causes top of mind when so little oxygen is left in the room for anything other than Coronavirus news.  


Now is the time to be connecting with your supporters. Stop wondering if because so many people are suffering from CODVID-19, the time is right for your organization to be "out there." This situation we are in is tragic, but what's also sad is that your organization will not meet its mission if it is not able to raise funds. Your constituents are counting on you. Just because Coronavirus has eclipsed our lives does not mean you sit and wait. Nope. You take action. You get out there and remind your supporters that those you serve still need their support now. You find a way to make lemonade out of lemons. After all, we are all in this together.


Be Proactively Honest – send a vlog, blog, email ASAP.

Tell your supporters what's going on at your organization and how CODVID-19 is affecting your operations, and service and program delivery. Let them know that you are concerned about the effect it will have of simultaneously increasing your budget and decreasing fundraising. Let them know while you aren't asking today for a gift, you appreciate them as a vital partner helping to deliver on your mission, which you will continue to work on - virus or no virus. Tell them the truth and tell them how much you need them to continue to support your cause, now more than ever


If you work for a disease-specific nonprofit that is tied to CODVID-19 complications – like diabetes, ALZ, heart, or lung disease, you may already have stories to share from your community. Share what you know and what you are doing. 


Cause-Marketing Partnerships. 

Reach out to your cause-marketing partners and tell them what's going on (same as above). If you have a partner in the resource space (e.g., cleaning supplies, technology, etc.), see if you can come up with an idea that helps them get their services/products to more people. Here's one – create a virtual handwashing counter – click here every time you wash your hands. For every click, we'll donate to XYZ. 


Existing Events, Galas.

We recommend canceling or postponing events scheduled to take place before June. We know events are a lot of work for your organization. Perhaps you were thinking of fading some of them out anyway and going to a more virtual model — nothing like a little nudge to get you there. Tell participants to stay put and instead think of ways for them to gather online and donate.  If you cancel your event, call all your donors individually and thank them for their continued support and ask how they are holding up. The epidemic is stressful for everyone. Listen.  Confirm with all ticket buyers and sponsors that you can convert their support for the event to an annual contribution. Publish their names on your website and on social. Thank each sponsor individually and link to them.   If you already made a video for your event, send it out over email, put it on social and on your website. Give it thought and whatever you decide,  to cancel or postpone, make sure you communicate transparently with your constituents. Sharing the behind the scene decision-making process will help to increase their trust and affinity with your organization.


Virtual Community Gatherings. 

This situation is hard for everyone, but especially for people who are the caregivers of people with chronic diseases and are at risk. They feel more isolated than ever. Think about ways to give your constituents ways to gather and discuss how they are feeling. Create a unique space on a social platform or on your website. You may also consider setting up dedicated chats for various cohorts or groups like Slack or What's App.


New Virtual Events.

Create a non-event event. Live-stream content and highlight people helped by the cause. Invite folks to watch and make a gift. If you have access to musicians or other talent, incorporate them. This is a great opportunity to showcase the work of your organization and to focus on the good work that is happening. It's okay to be positive and celebrate your work. Making people feel good about what you do, thanks to them, is one of the biggest motivators of all. If you don't already have a YouTube channel, consider getting one and putting both prior and current content on there.  And remember how we used to hem and haw about how expensive and how much time it costs to make a video?  Today, the more organic and raw, combined with impactful and clear messaging, the more impactful the video can be. Sometimes good enough is enough.  


TikTok for Good.

We know the audience is young, but they are super active on this app. Inspire them to engage their user base with 'Hashtag Challenges" whereby users create their own content to show support for campaigns. Check out


Peer to Peer Campaigns.

Mobilize your community to take collective action and spread the word, encourage support, and importantly fundraise. Make no mistake - the primary goal of peer to peer is to get your audience to ignite their community with a call-to-action that gets their network to give. There are several off-the-shelf online platform templets you can use to get a campaign up quickly. All you need is copy, a clear call-to-action, and a budget. Note that most online platforms require a one-year commitment. 


Go Old School. Reinvest in Direct Mail.

Is it possible that email is fading away, and paper is making a comeback? Snail mail has seen an uptick recently. Direct mail is getting more attention in mailboxes because there is less than there used to be with so much being online. It doesn't have to be glossy or expensive, but it should be emotional and show impact. Facts and figures are impressive, but stories move the needle.

Pick up the Phone! 

Call your impassioned supporters and tell them that while the Coronavirus is an absolute concern that you, too, are continuing to fulfill your organization's social mission and that you appreciate the support. Phone gifts accepted!


Test. Learn. Adjust. 

Gather (virtually) and brainstorm new revenue-generating ideas. Don't overthink it all; be okay with a test idea. In today's virtual world, you can make adjustments on a dime. Go for it. Be innovative, be risk-takers when it comes to development ideas. Make test, learn, and adjust your mantra. 

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