Exclusive Interview: Giselle Holloway, International Rescue Committee
FS: How do you plan for something of this magnitude?
GH: The best way to plan for fundraising around a major emergency is to do as much prep work beforehand to determine how information will be disseminated, what tasks need to be performed and who will perform them, what systems need to be in place for collecting gifts and storing data, and how results will be measured across all channels. It also helps to have templates in place for things like emergency e-mail alerts, direct-mail urgent-grams and telemarketing scripts so that you can quickly drop in language for a particular crisis and start raising money immediately.
FS: When such an event occurs, where immediate action and support are needed, how do funders typically respond? What’s the best way to ask people to get involved?
GH: When a high-profile disaster occurs, people want to do something immediately to feel like they are helping, whether by sending a check, making a gift online or on the phone, holding a fundraising event, offering to volunteer, or spreading the word through their social networks. The best way to get people involved is to contact them using their preferred mode of communication. A major donor might require a phone call from your president. A long-time direct-mail donor would be more likely to respond to an urgent-gram. Someone who recently signed your online petition might be inspired to make their first donation through a text-to-give campaign. It’s important to be strategic when it comes to communicating with your donors, especially during an emergency when time is of the essence.
You also should let supporters and prospective donors know all of the ways they can help and make it easy for them to do so. For example, on your homepage and in your e-mail alerts and online newsletters, you can include a link to a “How to Help” page that donors can use to find information on how to make a donation, create a personalized fundraising page, spread the word on Facebook and get updates from your field staff through Twitter.