Fundraising During A Pandemic

We are going through an incredible period of disruption. But we will get through it. Yet, we will all need to adapt. We’ve started by “social distancing” and having our employees work from home. But more changes will need to be made.

For example, every nonprofit and public media organization is going have to deal with how to raise money…and how you meet your financial goals during the pandemic.

If I learned anything during the 2009 recession is that it won’t be easy, but it’s not like you have to give up. Or can give up. Things may be slow for a while, but you have to stick with it. 

I wouldn’t recommend that a public station schedule an on-air fund drive right now.

Station events have to be put on hold. 

But besides that, you need and have to move forward.   

First and foremost, stay optimistic. No one wants to give to an organization that doesn’t offer hope…even in hard times. Your donors will understand the circumstances you are in, and as long as you are demonstrating your worth, they will be inclined to continue their giving unless they become ill…or can no longer afford to contribute. 

Stress how you continue to serve the community. You want to remain on top of their mind. Public media stations have a real advantage here because we come into the home of every one of them. 

Even if things get tough for your station, don’t beg. Describing a financial shortfall in your budget is your problem, stress how important your organization is even during a time of crisis. Ask from the heart. 

This is not the time to try new techniques. Stick with what works. That includes straight forward appeal letters and messages. 

Your audience might become more conservative. Understand their situation. As it pertains to your major donors, it might take them longer to commit. And existing donors who have made multiyear commitments, you might need to restructure their payments. That might hurt your budget, but you want your donors to feel like you are on their side. 

Check on your major donors. Call them. Make sure they are ok. Use it as an opportunity to tell them about some of your special programming. 

As I said, these are unprecedented times. I never thought that I’d see shelter in place orders with schools and major universities closing for an extended period. But we cannot change the circumstances that we have been dealt with. We can only continue to serve our audiences the way we have always done to the best of our ability.

Demonstrating worth now will lead to fundraising success in the future.

Order a copy of THE PUBLIC MEDIA MANAGERS HANDBOOK for you or a colleague and learn more about how to be a more effective leader. More info HERE.

Stay healthy.

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