What Did Nonprofit Fundraisers Learn From the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the COVID-19 global health emergency. The WHO recommended that countries now treat COVID-19 as a disease that is here to stay instead of as an emergency.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the nonprofit sector and the way fundraisers operate. So, what did we fundraisers learn? Here are a few key lessons that nonprofit fundraisers have learned.
The Importance of Digital Fundraising
With the pandemic limiting in-person events and activities, nonprofits had to rely more heavily on digital fundraising methods. This included online giving, virtual events and social media campaigns. Fundraisers learned that having a strong digital presence and using digital tools is essential to reaching donors and raising funds.
Donor Priorities May Shift During a Crisis
The pandemic brought about a range of challenges and uncertainties, causing many donors to shift their priorities. Nonprofit fundraisers learned that it's important to stay attuned to donor needs and concerns, and adapt their fundraising strategies accordingly.
Building Relationships With Donors Is Key
In times of crisis, donors often turn to nonprofits they trust to make a difference. Fundraisers learned that building strong relationships with donors, cultivating a sense of community and providing regular updates on how donations are being used can help maintain donor support during challenging times.
In particular, we have learned that video platforms, like Zoom, can be used for donor cultivation and solicitation — something that prior to COVID-19 we would never have done.
Flexibility and Agility Are Essential
The pandemic forced nonprofits to quickly adapt to new circumstances and adjust their fundraising strategies on the fly. Fundraisers learned that being flexible and agile is essential to navigating uncertain times and staying on track with fundraising goals.
The Need for Transparency and Accountability
As donors became more concerned about where their money was going and how it was being used during the pandemic, nonprofits realized the importance of being transparent about their fundraising efforts and demonstrating accountability for how donations were being spent.
Collaboration Is Critical
During the pandemic, nonprofits found that collaborating with other organizations, businesses and individuals can be highly effective in reaching fundraising goals and providing support to those in need.
The Importance of Planning for the Unexpected
The pandemic has demonstrated that unexpected events can have a significant impact on fundraising efforts. Nonprofit fundraisers learned that having contingency plans and being prepared for unexpected circumstances can help mitigate risks and ensure continued success.
The Value of Creativity and Innovation
With the limitations on in-person events and activities,fundraisers had to get creative in finding new ways to engage donors and raise funds. Many organizations found success by embracing innovative strategies, such as virtual galas, online auctions and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
Private Foundations Also Adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic
Private foundations provided emergency funding to nonprofits that were struggling. Many private foundations temporarily relaxed their grant restrictions to allow nonprofits to use funds in more flexible ways to address the immediate needs.
Private foundations also increased collaboration with other funders to provide a coordinated response to the crisis and avoid a duplication of efforts. Additionally, they recognized the importance of advocacy efforts in addressing the challenges the pandemic brought about and supported nonprofits in advocating for policy changes.
Many foundations offered technical assistance to help nonprofits adapt to the new realities, such as virtual fundraising strategies and digital outreach. Most of all, what distinguished many foundations was a focus on equity and inclusion, which resulted in foundations being more sensitive to racial and economic disparities, and provided funding to support efforts to promote equity and inclusion.
The nonprofits that learned these lessons early on, raised more revenue, and will continue to do so. By learning these lessons, nonprofit fundraisers are now better equipped to navigate future crises and continue to raise funds to support their missions.
Overall, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of adaptability, innovation and connection in nonprofit fundraising.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Laurence is author of "The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution," the first book on fundraising ever published by the American Management Association. He is chairman of LAPA Fundraising serving nonprofits throughout the U.S. and Europe.