Navigating Fundraising Initiatives During The Covid19 Pandemic and Economic Downturn

Coronavirus is spreading.  The economy is declining.  Either of these issues alone can be viewed as a recipe for disaster in terms of your fundraising efforts.  Now we have both at the same time.

You are anxious.  Your donors are anxious.  Your leadership is wondering what to do.

It’s up to you to lead the way.  What are you to do?

The following 7 steps will help you weather this storm:

  • Stay calm and carry on. Most importantly, don’t panic.  There are lots of examples from the financial crisis of 2008 of organizations that drastically reduced budgets, cut staff to “save” money, and pulled back on their fundraising efforts. Looking back, in the long run it was not a successful strategy.

Organizations/congregations that stayed the course with their fundraising efforts and invested more attention to their fundraising efforts were able to raise most of what was needed to ride out the recession.

Retracting during an economic crisis is not the best strategy!

  • Keep in touch with your leadership (virtually, by video chat, or conference calls). Keep your leadership engaged in the situation.  Model calm and working your fundraising plan:

If you are in a capital campaign, keep going

If you are about to launch a campaign, proceed as planned

Continue with your annual fund emphasis as scheduled.

Ask your leadership for their advice/suggestions/insights.  Discuss how the

Coronavirus and economic downturn could affect your mission.  Will the problems you work on every day increase?  In difficult times there is often greater need for helping the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, taking care of the elderly, etc.  So, how might this impact your mission?

  • Keep in touch with your congregation more frequently about what is needed to get through the current crisis. Many contributors will step up to help if given the chance.  Let the organization/congregation know what you are facing.  Give people the opportunity respond.  Go out of your way to thank contributors for their faithful response during a time of uncertainty.
  • If you’re planning or in the midst of a capital campaign, stay the course.

If you’ve been planning a campaign, remember that the need for your campaign has not gone away simply because of the current crisis.  You need to proceed with your campaign plans even in the midst of the unsettling times.

If you are in your campaign, keep on keeping on!  Do not stop, postpone, or try to reschedule your campaign.  If you do this, you will be sowing the seeds for trying to figure out when the right time (and when is that?).  There are other steps to take.  You may need to lengthen the timeline or adjust your goal and plans, but shutting down your campaign is a major mistake.

  • Don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume what your contributors will and will not do, or what they can or cannot give!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If your needs have increased because of the Covid19 pandemic and economic downturn, let the congregation/organization know.  Communicate what is needed and provide ways for contributors to help.
  • This prayer written by an anonymous member of the Interfaith Hospitality Network in Cincinnati.  It is entitled:  Prayer for a Pandemic.

May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have not risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving
their health or making the rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children
when their schools close
Remember those who have not options.

 May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those who have no place to go.

May we who are losing the margin on our money
in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.