No-one will deny that the year 2020 is quite a challenging year. Of course, many countries face more challenges than ‘just’ the pandemic. They face dictatorship, corruption, natural disasters, industrial accidents, the results of climate change or crucial elections in a polarized country – or any combination of these. Having COVID-19 on top of any of that is no piece of cake, certainly. Aggravating factor is that the pandemic is affecting individuals, companies, organizations, countries, and international organizations that could be relied on for their support to nonprofits. Causing their continued giving to be at risk. So, what does this crisis mean for your fundraising?
The pandemic and your community
Before you can go out fundraising in the current situation you must take stock of how the people or values you serve are impacted by the pandemic. What has changed for them in this year? How is that influencing them? Is this creating new challenges for them? Making the ones you were addressing worse? Or is it creating new opportunities?
For instance, if you want to help girls get an education the fact that schools are closed due to COVID-19 measures can be a setback. Even if schools can pivot their lesson plans to online classes, they may not reach your girls if they have no Internet connection at home. Or if they are given other tasks at home. Or if their home situation is so unsafe that they cannot focus on school. On the other hand, you might be able to reach more girls for the same investment if you can get them in online classes.
The pandemic and your work
How do the changed circumstances of the people or values you serve impact your work? Do you need to design new activities to address new challenges? Or do you need to develop new approaches to make use of new opportunities?
If you work to protect the environment, you may see specific pollution decrease due to COVID-19 measures. For instance, air pollution from cars and planes. Good news! On the other hand, you may need to develop new educational materials and campaigns on how to properly dispose of one-time-use face-masks or how to sew reusable face-masks.
The pandemic and your organization
How is your organization impacted by the pandemic? Do you have everything in place to be able to work remote? Is your team able to cope with not being together? Do you have the knowledge and skills needed to adjust?
If you are usually organizing face-to-face workshops for your community, you may need to redesign to online meetings. If your community does not have (sufficient) access to Internet, you can see how you might provide this (as a new service). Or you can try to design your face-to-face activity with social distancing if allowed. If not, you might set up a treasure hunt or conveyor belt-type activity. See if you can do something that way for you own team, too. After all, it may be a difficult time for them as well.
The pandemic and your community – 2
I hope you have kept in mind through all this that your donors are people, too. They are your community, too. I really hope you have made time to invest in these relations. And I hope that they now feel that you understand what the pandemic means for them. That they feel seen and heard by you. Respected and appreciated. Even if they cannot support you right now.
Look for the new kids on the block
Like with all crises, there are always winners to be found somewhere. People, organizations, countries, who find a clever answer sooner than the rest. Who are flourishing despite – or because of – the crisis. Now that you have a clear view of changed needs, have designed new activities and a new approach and understand what support is needed for your team to be able to implement your new plans effectively, you can start looking for new donors, too.
Look for individuals, companies, or organizations that share an interest in the community or the values you serve. Maybe they are part of that community. Or perhaps they are selling to this community. Maybe they are responsible for governing the community. Or they may be providing the same community with certain services. Key is to be open-minded to spotting anyone and everyone who has an interest in that community or topic for whatever reason.
This crisis may mean new opportunities for your mission, too
If you are open-minded and creative, you may find new ideas and new approaches. And you may find new supporters and partners, too. You may even end 2020 with more opportunities than you had at the start of the year. There are no guarantees of course. But if you have a genuine interest in your community – the one you serve directly and the donor community you serve by helping them reach their aims – you have a big chance of finding something of value in this crisis. Something that will help you be better at your mission. That will help your people or values flourish. Which is what you are all about, after all.
Want to know more and ask questions?
Then join my Facebook group how to become a professional and resilient nonprofit with Suzanne Bakker here. In this group we will create a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.