A personal message to each and every reader:

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I know that times are trying for you. If I can be of assistance, please reach out to me. This is a genuine offer to help in whatever way I can- whether it’s to talk shop and help your biz/NPO or to shmooze on Zoom and talk about everything under the sun BUT work and being stuck at home.

From my lockdown to yours: I’m here for you.

And now to today’s post…

The Day After

The day after is when things go back to ‘normal.’ No one knows what the new normal will look like or when we’ll enter the blessed phase of no more Zoomeetings. Could be a few weeks, months, who knows.

I do know that we WILL get through this and make it to the other side.

Which got me thinking: There are plenty of articles out there telling nonprofits what to do RIGHT NOW with their fundraising, marketing and communications. I know how busy some of you are, scrambling to keep the lights on and provide services for beneficiaries.

But what about tomorrow? Because yes, even in the here and now, organizations need to consider their future plans. We may not know what the nonprofit landscape will look like but we can utilize a fraction of our current routine wisely to help ensure success down the road.

My suggestion: Plan and strategize if you can. It might be a good team exercise to brainstorm and allow staff to think ahead a little. Get their minds off the here and now.

To help you consider what to do now in order to plan for the future, I have gathered 5 of the top sector experts and asked them to provide advice on a specific topic related to your work. Their combined experience of over 125 years in the field is worth listening to. This isn’t their first time dealing with a crisis and their knowledge, experience and expertise is what you should be paying attention to.

Simply put: There are certain principles you should be following which aren’t going to change.

Read, learn and implement internally if you can. Plan now for great results in the future.

Gratitude- Beth Ann Locke

Beth Ann Locke“What matters now? For donors, it’s to know they’re needed, that they’re appreciated for their support, that they’re connected to their values – including through your charity. That’s where fundraisers like you step in. Your loyal donors – even repeat donors –need to hear from you today. Call – thank them for their past support and check in on them (is your region in quarantine or physical distancing?). Write – a card or postcard (emails are too disposable). Your mission was important before – and it still is, even if not covid-related. Now is the time to double down on gratitude. Which increases connection, loyalty, and what we all need now – a daily dose of humanity.”  Beth Ann Locke, Chief Spark and Fundraiser Coach 

Fundraising- Barbara O’Reilly

Barbara O'Reilly“First, do not cut your fundraising team.  History shows us that in economic upheavals (even going back to the Great Depression of the 1930s), giving never stopped.  It might have slowed and been redirected, but donors continued to give and overall philanthropy generally rebounded quickly once things returned to normal. We know that fundraising takes time and is based on strong relationships. Limiting or cutting completely your fundraising capacity now will set your organization too far back when we emerge from this period. 

Second, do not stop communicating with your donors even if your mission is not direct Coronavirus response. Organizations that check in with their donors, send them updates, regularly reach out will be in a far better position than those that went silent altogether because they stayed front and center with their supporters.”  Barbara O’Reilly, Principal at Windmill Hill Consulting

Data- T. Clay Buck

T. Clay Buck“The best thing any nonprofit can be doing right now is continuing to communicate with their donors and their community, but for any team that finds itself with available time or questioning how to be on top of whatever comes next, this is an incredible opportunity to get on top of your data. 

  • Run a database audit, clean up records and get rid of or merge all those duplicates. 
  • Update records through a National Change of Address and other demographic appends. 
  • Review key constituencies and ensure contact information and relationships are all set up correctly. 
  • Major Gift Officers could get caught up on adding moves and notes to the records. 

We all need better data; investing in that now when there’s some potential time to focus on it ensures that every connection point, every message, every appeal is much stronger.”  T. Clay Buck, Founder and Principal at Tactical Fundraising Solutions

Copywriting, Improving your copy for donors- Mary Cahalane

Mary Cahalane“Writing to your donors is about relationship-building. The first thing you should do is make it personal. This isn’t an official communication, sent to thousands. It’s one to one. And write with feelings, not statistics. We give from the heart. Finally, focus on the donor’s desire to be helpful instead of your budget concerns. Connect donor to mission, directly.” Mary Cahalane, Principal at Hands-On Fundraising

Storytelling- Miriam Brosseau

Miriam Brosseau“There are the stories we tell now and the story we will tell on the other side of this. For the sake of both, this is the time for nonprofits to think about the three part structure of public narrative championed by Marshall Ganz at Harvard as a guide: The story of self (who am I and why do I do this work?), the story of us (what are our shared values and experiences?) and the story of now (what is the urgent challenge we are taking on together and how will we do it?). Get back to your mission, your “why,” your origin story; lean into the power of that. Show some vulnerability that allows your audience to see themselves in your story and connect more deeply. And remind your community that there is a path to the other side, if you go together.”  Miriam Brosseau, Principal at Tiny Windows Consulting

Communications- Your Faithful Blogger

“As the experts above have mentioned, now is NOT the time to stop communicating with donors! Why is that important? Because they’re going through hard times just like you and your organization. Now is an excellent time to strengthen relationships and build trust.

Pick up the phone and call donors. Ask them how they’re doing and how your organization can help if they need assistance. A phone call is private, one-to-one communication and will make people feel a little less social isolation.

For whatever reason, if phone isn’t an option, send a personalized email. Again, ask how you can help them. Include a personal note from the CEO. The goal? Continue the personal conversation between donors and your organization.

Tip: Send a personalized video. Again, one-to-one. Or at least turn the table and show support and empathy for your donors via video.

Important: When communicating, make sure donors are updated on how your organization is using their donor dollars to help service recipients, even during the current crisis.

Building and strengthening relationships NOW will bear fruit in the future.”

Now is not the time to go dark. Now is a time to stay in touch with all your stakeholders. At the same time, use your time wisely: Plan for the day after.

Hi nonprofit pro! NOW’S the time to be engaging with your donors. Since you might not be able to in person, let’s give your digital communications and marketing a kickstart, so we can give a boost to your bottom line!