COVID-19 and the quarantine are pushing us all to re-evaluate our fundraising efforts and find new ways to keep donors engaged. The Association’s Katherine Shenar discussed this with Jim Tedford, CAWA, President and CEO for The Association, and fundraising guru Trish Dewald. Dewald has 20 years of fundraising experience, having worked as the development officer for several nonprofits, and is now leading the nonprofit practice at Phoenix Innovate, a marketing services organization with deep knowledge in fundraising. Watch the interview and follow their 3 recommendations to achieve powerful, far-reaching results:
Feel funny making the ask these days? “The worst thing that an organization can do is back off,” says Tedford. “Yes, there is a tendency to think you are bothering people, but they want to hear from us. The best way to not get a gift from a donor is to not ask.”
Agrees Dewald, “Don’t panic—we’ll come out of this, and your donors will want to keep giving. We can’t say it enough—your donors want to support you. Keep using the digital platforms you’ve been using to connect in real time with your donors at home.”
Stay On Message
“Continue to share stories from the front lines,” says Dewald (hint: before-and-after photos are always effective). In the spirit of transparency and effective, engaging messaging, it’s crucial that you “share needs you have now that are unique to COVID.”
It’s also important to stay on message for the particular audience you’re speaking with. “All of your donors have different journeys with you,” explains Dewald. A message to an adopter will likely not be the same as a communication with someone who’s attended a fundraising gala, or made a gift in memoriam. Make the message relevant to increase engagement. “We know that when our donors are deeply engaged, they’re committed.”
Assess Your Strategy
Key points for improving results and long-term sustainability:
* “Now is a good time to rebalance,” says Tedford. With social distancing and the pause on meeting in groups, “Fundraising events will not take on the same meaning—can you take some of these events online, update your strategy so it is not so heavily dependent on events?”
* “Lapsed donors are always worth pursuing,” reveals Dewald. But customize the message for the audience. Not all have the same entry point with you—be it adopter, volunteer, monthly donor—and researching your audience is your most powerful tool.
* “Focus on improving retention,” says Dewald. “Think of it as another form of acquisition, and remember it all goes back to messaging.”
Watch the interview anytime here, and please share what changes you have made to your fundraising strategy. What did you do, and what results have you seen?