You each are dealing with so much
Remember to let some light in each day. There is so much goodness in the world.
I've read a lot, listened to podcasts and webinars and gleaned a few important highlights I thought I'd share. Once again nonprofits are called upon to help, and help you will. One or two pointers below may provide some guidance or reminder so we prove the Oklahoma Standard once again!
Being Sensitive and, Yet, Engaging Donors/Members in the Time of the Coronavirus
And then along comes a virus…
- We’re officially in a recession and last time that resulted in a 7% decrease in contributions
- Uncertain and anxiety are skyrocketing - as the stock market plummets
- Boo! to cheap gasoline at the pumps (energy is still Oklahoma's #1 industry)
- Nonprofits are shouldering much of the burden to care for the increased and immediate needs of those with little or nor margin - many services are essential
- All events - including fundraisers - are canceled for the next 8+ weeks
- In general, there's hard stop on asks unless for a specific need related to the current crisis
To do NOW - 6 ways to remain steadfast and sensitive in this topsy turvy world:
- Communicate with donors/members - about event status and your beneficiaries/clients (donors do care). Keep all communications - especially emails - short, sweet and to the point. But...some donors, especially those more isolated, welcome the chance to talk. Transparency and accountability matter - now more than ever. Don’t forget goodness and hope.
- Empathize with your donors/members - from businesses shutting down to loved ones getting the virus, the pain is real. Very real. Be sensitive. Let donors/members know you care and share in their concerns. It’s not just about you and your nonprofit.
- Only ask for money now if you need it - No general appeals for now. But if demand for your services have gone up because of the virus (food bank, healthcare), ask donors to fund these specific things. Make specific appeals to specific donor segments for specific needs. The Oklahoma Standard is a real thing - we show up and take care of those hurting.
- Postpone events - Use the time to plan and consider changes that reflect understanding and serve your donors/members. If you don’t have a stewardship plan, now’s the time to create on. If you don’t know who your top donors are (loyalty and dollars), now’s the time.
- Engage donors/members - Tell stories, use volunteers to make phone calls (check in on donors and clients). Front line organizations should have a long list of ways to help. Keep connections strong - social distancing is NOT emotional distancing!
- If you have reserves or an endowment, be grateful - you’ve got margin and that makes everything better. And next time a board member suggests spending that money on current programming or operations, remind them of 2020.
General Info for Nonprofits to Respond to COVID-19 and this brave, new world
Nonprofits are always some of the first to step up. This includes a shift in focus and resources, together with a sensitivity to the pain and stress of their donors. There’s not a single response or answer, but some of the more thoughtful and helpful actions:
- Getting super focused on what matters now - keep the main thing the main thing
- Understanding yesterday’s approach may no longer be applicable for today and tomorrow
- Reviewing policies and contracts (ex. annual meeting requirements, attendance requirements, force majeure provisions, insurance coverage)
- Keeping a vigilant watch on financials
- Clear and timely communication regarding canceled and rescheduled events
- STEWARD, STEWARD, STEWARD
- Over rather than under-communicate, but keep all communications short and to the point!
- SERVE your donors/members, be empathetic - check in with them - CARE (you’re a nonprofit - this should be obvious and natural)
- Now is a great time to shine the light on planned giving
- If your mission is to serve those directly affected by the crisis (ie food bank, healthcare), don’t stop fundraising. Be specific in your ask, showing the immediate need, expressing the urgency. Reach out to your nearest and dearest donors/members.
- Pull back on those communications that were already in the que. This is not business as usual. Don’t appear to have just fallen off the turnip truck.
...and the greatest of these is love. May you stay safe, strong, caring and careful.