During such an unprecedented time in our history amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a lot of uncertainty facing us. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations, their boards and their donors. While some, if not all, of your staff members are focused on keeping daily operations going to provide essential services, this is not a time to forget about the lifeblood of your organization: your relationship with your major donors.
Here are a few tips to get through this time while strengthening relationships with your most loyal donors:
Continue Stewarding Major Donors
Across the country, organizations have observed major donors making a very sudden shift in light of the COVID-19 developments. When considering a major gift to a favorite nonprofit, they are responding: “Let’s wait and see.” That is because major donors’ assets have been hit hard by the decline of the stock market. Although the value of their assets have been growing in recent years and donors have felt generous because of this, the decline has certainly affected the value of their portfolio. This is not a reason to be deterred, but a reason to continue to steward these relationships. It means that the type of conversations you have with your major donors will need to be slightly different.
This is a critical time to continue to check-in with your major donors. Ask how they and their family are doing during these challenging times. First, find out about their health and wellbeing and how they’re doing in the crisis. It is important you care for them as a person, just like you care for the clients you serve. Next, find out what is on their mind and influencing their giving. This approach will provide invaluable insight into what motivates your donors, will result in a stronger relationship with them and, ultimately, a deeper commitment from them.
And remember all of the channels of communication that are available! This is not a time to rely on in-person meetings. Instead, be prepared to check in with your donors and provide information over the phone, in email or even video conference calls if they seem appropriate.
As the late, great Jerry Panas shared with us during the 2008 financial crisis: “Donors become more selective in tough times. They choose organizations that demonstrate how much the donor means to those the organization serves.”
This can be accomplished through updates that are as simple as a quick email or video to make your donors aware of the efforts that your organization is taking to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Let them know how you are protecting your staff and clients, what you are doing to step up to meet the increased community needs and what you need to continue to do so. Remember that your donors are invested in what you are doing, so take a few minutes to share your latest developments to keep them informed.
Empower Donors to Take Action
Now is the time to remember that existing donors will remain loyal, if engaged.
Philanthropy responds in times of crisis – that is because giving is comforting and empowering. During times of uncertainty, when we all feel that so many things are out of our control, our charitable contributions are something we can control. Give your donors the information they need – information that will INSPIRE them – to know that their gift is directly impacting the lives of their neighbors in need. When you do that, they will support you.
Do you have questions about how to implement these steps for your own organization? Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to help you!