How can you retain donor dollars in the wake of a crisis or disaster if your charity is not related to that crisis? In other words, suppose you are a breast cancer or Alzheimer’s charity in Houston or Florida just after hurricanes Harvey or Irma; donation dollars in these areas are currently going to The American Red Cross, the ASPCA and hunger organizations. How do you ensure that you are receiving donations for your cause in order to combat the devastation?
At the end of the day, each nonprofit organization is a business. While nonprofit organizations aren’t competing for customers, they’re instead competing for donor dollars. Following a disaster, it can be hard to stand out as an organization with the crisis-related local and national groups that may be giving your geographical area attention. There are, however, two primary coping strategies in these types of scenarios:
- Stay the course. Resources are limited and donors only have so much to give. However, enough monthly donors and bequests promised can keep your charity “afloat” during a time when the local and national focus is on survivors of the crisis of the day, week, or month. Remember that your big donation upswing will come again during Breast Cancer or Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, for example, during Giving Tuesday or if something newsworthy happens related to your cause (e.g. a celebrity goes public as fighting your charity’s disease or there is a new study or advance made in treatment). Keep faith that things will eventually return to normal and instead focus on other major-gift opportunities.
- Do something to create news. Host a walk-a-thon, a live or silent auction, a donor stewardship thank-you dinner, or some other type of event to remind donors of your needs and to reconnect the community to your charity. Perhaps, if there is even a way at all to tie in your charity with the crisis at hand, create an event around that (e.g. seek donations for Alzheimer’s sufferers impacted by the storm). Since you will have very little time to create and prepare for the event, to stem any financial hemorrhaging during the crisis, make any initiative—like an auction—as easy on yourself and your staff as possible with mobile bidding, text-to-give options, automated event registration, text alerts when an auction bidder has won an item and other fundraising technology features. Fundraising technology company Gesture offers a suite of services to help nonprofits plan and execute events more easily and raise more money.
When a disaster hits your options are to weather the storm or draw attention to your charity despite competing circumstances. Regardless of which option you choose, remember the mantra that “this, too, shall pass.”
Jim Alvarez is the founder and CEO of full-service fundraising technology company Gesture By Community Brands. Gesture has helped nonprofits across the country raise over $500 million since 2011 through the use of technology. Alvarez is the recipient of the Chicago Innovation Award and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award for his innovative idea and launch of Gesture. He is an avid speaker and author helping nonprofits to embrace mobile fundraising technology to increase fundraising efforts. Alvarez drives the growing company to make hope happen for nonprofits developing innovative ideas that embrace technology.