10 things to do now to raise money during an economic downturn
Some of these are back-to-basics ideas, others are about being frugal and innovative. All are excellent ideas to help your nonprofit weather the storm!
1. Practice gratitude.
Record a short video to tell donors how their giving is making the world a better place. Plan to do this weekly or until the Dow reaches 30,000 points. When possible, spotlight a tangible example – “this week your support fed 50 puppies, 30 cats and 2 grateful dedicated but exhausted adults”. Not sure how to send a video to your donors? Network for Good’s fundraising software has this feature built-in. Check out some examples of how our customers use this tool.
2. Keep in touch.
There are hundreds of new and free tools to help you connect with constituents. This month commit to trying one new platform – Zoom, Marco Polo, and Instagram Live are easy to use and growing in popularity.
3. Start at the top.
Work with your Board Chair to create a matching gift fund to drive urgency with challenges and competitions. Think outside the standard matching gift box and use matching funds to accelerate growth where needed. You could focus on acquiring new donors or increasing the number of recurring or $500+ donors.
4. Focus on recurring giving.
If this has been on your list for months, now is the perfect time to launch. Monthly gifts are sustaining thousands of organizations as I type. Monthly giving allows you to spend more time thanking and less time asking. It is also exponentially easier to decline a new request for support than to stop your monthly gift to an organization you already support.
5. Check the expiration dates.
Look for ways to save by eliminating outdated, inefficient fundraising activities. Try a variation on Marie Kondo and ask, “Does this expenditure spark revenue?” Get tough – this is your window to reduce or eliminate programs that require staff time, volunteer management, and the ability to meet in person. After you’ve crunched the numbers, use Network for Good’s fundraising software to survey your constituents. This is a smart way to get a sense of the activities that really matter to your contacts, as we enter a new normal.
6. Identify Plans B, C and D.
Consider subletting a section of your current office to another nonprofit. Do you have equipment that could be sold or donated to a fellow nonprofit? Can you start a social enterprise? Develop a cause-marketing partnership with a company.
7. Collaborate to raise money.
This is an ideal time to host a virtual giving day. Remember, there is strength in numbers. For example, ten grassroots organizations serving people with disabilities could host one virtual giving day instead of each having their own. They would probably raise more, hold a better event and get more attention than doing it alone. Foster a little healthy competition with a Peer-to-Peer Campaign.
8. Be realistic.
Scale back ambitious campaigns, but don’t give up on them. You may have to adjust the goal or increase the length of your “quiet phase” To remain competitive in challenging times you must persevere. Remember your mission and vision are not any less significant today. Be sure to keep campaign donors and volunteers in the loop on any goal adjustments to avoid challenges down the road. Fundraising software like Network for Good’s helps you keep key constituents in the know with easy-to-use group features designed to save time.
9. Avoid emergency solicitations.
Asking donors to bail you out or save you from impending demise is not an appealing message — who wants to invest in an organization on the brink of collapse? People like to play on a winning team. Let your donors know your organization is ready to help and with their support can reduce the urgent need created by recent economic events.
10. Get social.
The vast majority of Americans check some form of social media at least once a day. Use this habit to your nonprofit’s advantage by posting compelling, relevant content to engage your followers, accelerate the conversion to donors and increase support for your mission! Look for opportunities to increase your following by partnering with companies that have 100K+ social media followers. This can be a win/win for businesses looking to support nonprofit organizations working to make a difference in their community!
Above all, try to stay calm. Your mission matters more than ever during a recession, and these tactics and a smart fundraising strategy will keep your nonprofit afloat.