If you are putting off fundraising now, waiting may hurt you.
I don’t have data to share – we’ll all know more when the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s numbers are out for the first quarter of 2020. But what I’m hearing from colleagues and clients is nearly universal: fundraising through this pandemic is doing very well. Sometimes, amazingly well. Donors are being so generous!
Money worries got you down?
If your organization is focused now on how to manage staff salaries and other expenses, but not thinking as much about how you can spend now on fundraising in order to raise more money… well, you’re probably missing a pretty good-sized boat.
Don’t miss it.
The money you save by cutting expenses – especially those that would support fundraising activities – is money lost. The money you could bring in by communicating with your donors and asking for their help is money – and if you work at it – donors – in the door.
Why are you waiting?
Are you waiting until you don’t need money so badly to ask for help? That doesn’t make sense when you think about it, does it?
Fundraising will always have costs. If it’s not money, it will be time. But you can’t look at only the costs – you have to look at both sides of the equation. If you need donated funds to operate, you need fundraising. Fundraising isn’t just an expense. It’s a critical profit-center for your mission.
But… we’re scared
We’re all scared now. So much is going wrong, and it can certainly be overwhelming. From coronavirus to snow in May, from black people being murdered by police to expectations of a second depression… We even have monkeys running away with dangerous lab samples.
I don’t want to know what’s next.
But fundraising isn’t about being scared.
It takes bravery – regardless of the kind of fundraising you do. Talking face to face with a donor terrifies some people. Spending money on a direct mail campaign terrifies others.
But we can’t let that stop us.
Don’t wait. Make a plan to go forward. Because there are causes depending on our bravery now. Lives are a stake. And when everything seems to be going wrong, it’s always the most vulnerable who get hit the hardest.
Also: your donors want to give now. It helps them feel less powerless in a crazy world. Don’t take that away from them.
That’s why we exist. To help. And be brave while we do it.
That’s also why we shouldn’t make fundraising decisions based only on what’s less expensive to do.
Email is free or cheap! Except when you spend time on an email campaign that doesn’t work because your donors prefer mail. The only way to know is to try, of course. So don’t wait. Go ahead and start with an email appeal. But spend the time to make it good. And track responses carefully.
Direct mail might seem difficult now, as we’re all working from home. But this is when a good mailing/printing shop can be your best friend. If you have access to your donor information, you can send out a mailing. They can also help you contain costs. And for most organizations, the response rate on direct mail is much higher than email.
Of course… using multiple channels is even better.
Face to face
And you can’t meet donors face to face now – at least in person. But you can meet them face to face virtually. Or at the least, you can make a phone call.
And you should! If you only do that to check in with them, ask if they’re doing all right now, then you’ll be ahead of so many others. And they’ll remember your kindness.
But if you have a special need right now, don’t wait. Ask.
Because if there’s one theme I’m hearing over and over again now, it’s that donors are happy to help. Eager, in fact.
We’re all feeling out of control.
It’s all so big and hard to grasp. Giving to an organization you care about – a cause you care about – gives you a sense of control. You’re not just sitting there, pondering the awful. You’re doing something about it.
Don’t cheat your donors of that opportunity!
Work smart. Give your fundraising the most heart you can give. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and human now. We all need that.
But if what you do matters… if your organization does important work… then be brave and don’t wait to find the help you need. Donors are waiting to hear from you!