COVID-19 has a serious side effect for nonprofits—total wreckage of the spring events season.
Many organizations have either canceled or are in planning mode to ensure that they maximize all fundraising possible with their special event. If you are considering cancellation of your event, here are a few ideas that can help your fundraising stay on track:
- Virtual events: Foster unity by engaging your virtual attendees. One charity in Seattle, Upaya, shared their tips on how they launched a four-day virtual party and surpassed their goal.
- Dinner with a twist: Recruit volunteers to wear black-tie and deliver meals to local ticket holders who would rather not attend the event. This is especially thoughtful for senior guests and others who may be nervous about the virus (or quarantined). Send videos a few times during the evening to make them feel like they are part of the fun.
- Virtual auction: Use Facebook Live to livestream your live auction. If you have several auction items, you can also invest in auction software with online bidding, saving a few for the live FB auction.
- Flash fundraiser: Communicate with your network that you have or might need to cancel your special event. Add wording to create a “flash” fundraiser that lasts one or a few days with the end date/time being the time your event was supposed to wrap. If possible, leverage a matched gift to encourage additional donations and celebrate a spirit of generosity. Also, encourage Subscription GivingTM so you can grow your recurring revenue.
- Sharable content: Create content to share event and fundraising highlights on social media, as well as video and text. Virtual events need to be visual. Network for Good’s simple, smart fundraising software has all the tools you need to engage your donors and event attendees while the event is happening.
- Appreciate more often: Now is not the time to love and leave your donors and ticket buyers. Plan for the long term by creating new ways to communicate and engage with your supporters. Use video acknowledgements, hand-written thank you notes, text updates and phone calls from board members to recognize donors, key prospects and volunteers.
When the decision is made to cancel an event for which you’ve already secured sponsorship and sold tickets, it is important to create a proactive narrative. Remind the sponsors and attendees about the important impact the funds raised would have on the people you serve.
Remind your sponsors and attendees that the fundraising element of the event was the critical WHY. Consider sharing the anticipated NET fundraising gain and what that money will do for your beneficiaries. Event cancellation does not cancel the need for services and programs. Don’t be shy. Let them know how important and urgent their gift is, and the difference it will make.
Is your organization’s or event’s culture/climate lighthearted? Perhaps you can share the benefits of a virtual event beyond the COVID-19 safety protocols: no need to pick out an outfit, find a babysitter, drive to the venue, pay for parking, or make small talk.
Ask those who’ve already purchased tickets to donate the price of their ticket. Do not offer to refund their money upfront. Prepare to send a revised tax receipt to reflect the change. Perhaps let them know they can complete a simple form or contact you if they need a refund.
Be sure to show the impact of COVID-19 and/or a recession will have on your organization. Will demand for your services increase? Gain empathy by being authentic and consistent in your messaging, especially if you are serving affected populations.
COVID-19 is expected to last for many months, with a potential resurgence in the fall. There is also the threat of a recession. In uncertain times, one thing is certain with fundraising—the more you plan, the better off you will be.
Successful fundraising during a recession is two-pronged:
- Focus hard on donor engagement and retention, and
- Use intelligent prospecting techniques to recruit new followers and supporters. Capture information as you go—supporter interests, meetings/event attendance—and set tasks for follow-up. When you work to retain your donors while broadening your reach you hit the nirvana needed to withstand hard times.
If you do not have software that enables multichannel communication (email, direct mail, text, video, donation pages, etc.), automated acknowledgements, contact notes, and task setting, then it’s time to get one.
Network for Good offers simple, smart fundraising software for small nonprofits. Talk to us today about how we can help COVID-19-proof your organization’s fundraising.
Published on March 12, 2020