Communications and Fundraising Resources and Support
COVID-19 poses unique communications and fundraising challenges for your nonprofit.
First, this crisis is demanding near daily communication with your staff, clients and other stakeholders about your organization’s response to the outbreak and its many disruptions. Second, it’s likely causing you to rethink nearly everything you’ve been working on from a fundraising perspective. You may have to cancel your events or move them online, change the direction of your capital campaign, initiate new efforts to mitigate the risk of lost fundraising revenue, and more. It’s overwhelming to say the least. But we’re here to help.
We’re releasing new, nonprofit-oriented resources for on coping with coronavirus weekly, and we’ll continue to update this page regularly with helpful tools and advice. You can also learn more about how our consultants can support your organization during this difficult time below.
Our latest COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits
How We Can Help
On a recent webinar, we asked attendees what they’re most focused on now, as they work hard to help their nonprofits through the COVID-19 crisis. These were their responses.
You might be worried about, and working on, many of the same things. Here at Prosper Strategies, our consultants are eager to support you. Here are a few ways we can do so:
- Facilitate a workshop with your team to strategize about how you can continue to fundraise (and do so sensitively and successfully) in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
- Brainstorm with you and your team about new revenue streams and social enterprise ventures you can pursue to shore up your reserves.
- Help you take your cancelled fundraising event online.
- Step in as your on-call crisis comms team (for internal and external communications).
- Get on a call to hear what you’re struggling with and share advice and support.
Please let us know what you need most and how we can help you through this challenging and unpredictable time. We’re all in this together.
FAQs: Nonprofits and COVID-19 Communications and Fundraising
How do you balance being upfront about the impact of COVID-19 on your organization and your fundraising needs with being sensitive to supporters who are struggling financially?
Transparency is the best medicine here. Be honest about the situation you’re facing, your runway and how long you can afford to make it through this crisis. Also acknowledge that many are struggling financially. Those who are struggling may appreciate the touchpoint and decide to donate when they are in a more financially secure situation. Some donors will find that they’re not struggling at quite the level you described, but they appreciate the message and acknowledgment. As this crisis continues to evolve, communicate with your donors and prospective donors frequently (as often as weekly or biweekly), but don’t make every communication an ask. Your supporters want to hear from you about how your organization is faring, adjustments you’re making, and needs that are continuing to crop up.
What’s the best way to locate rapid response funds to support nonprofits through the COVID-19 crisis?
Go to your state nonprofit association’s website. Start at the National Council of Nonprofits that have listings by state. You may Google search for “COVID-19 emergency response fund” and “nonprofits.” You can also contact your local mayor or governor’s office. Often those funds have been developed in coordination with the local government who can direct you to the right spot. Lastly, look to any local community foundation that’s in your area. They are often involved in emergency response funds. Here’s a good example: Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.
What should nonprofits do that are getting funding from corporate sponsorships or corporate foundations?
You have a lot of the same challenges to those who are getting funding from individual donors. Everyone, including businesses, are cutting back on spending right now amidst worries about a recession that may come out of this crisis. First and foremost, acknowledge the difficult situation your business partners are in. As we’ve mentioned before, transparency is key, so don’t shy away from also outlining the tough times ahead for your nonprofit and why funding is more important than ever. Then, you can make the corporate social responsibility case for why they should continue giving to you. This is a compelling reason for organizations that can afford it to continue that funding. They want to portray sensitivity to the current crisis we’re in, so position a partnership with your organization as a way to do that.
How do you handle asking for donations for auction items when businesses themselves have had to close?
Be sensitive to those who are struggling most during these times. Gyms, restaurants, spas are all probably not great places to go to for auction items right now, but we’re also seeing a lot of businesses in those categories stepping up. Restaurants are providing free food for kids who would usually get their food from schools, gyms are doing live streaming workouts and more. Pay attention to what’s being talked about in the media and who’s able to give and how businesses you’d typically ask for donations are adjusting. Try to cue into a business’ situation before you make an ask. Think about experiences or different things that businesses can donate that might have a lot of value in a silent auction but that won’t hurt the company’s bottom line.
Any recommendations for cancellation of events that have a large number of corporate sponsors? How do you recommend working with those sponsors?
Ideally, your sponsors will still be engaged if you do a virtual event. They are finding themselves in the same boat by having a lot of events canceled and they often will want those sponsorships maintained to achieve marketing and communication goals. Have a conversation with your sponsors to see if they’re willing to stay involved in a virtual event and find new ways to add value for them.
As an environmentally focused nonprofit, how do you advocate for the needs of your organization when there are other more short-term pressing issues on peoples’ minds?
Donors recognize that the environment and climate change are some of the most pressing issues of our time and that doesn’t go away because of COVD-19. However, it’s hard to keep this top of mind when we’re in the midst of a public health crisis that is constantly occupying the news. There are some clear lines that can be drawn between what’s happening now, as we change our behavior to cope with COVID, and environmental impact. Once the peak of this crisis passes, there may be unique opportunities to bring the impact of our individual behavior on the planet to people’s attention once again. Prepare for that now.
We are an international development nonprofit. Our programs are on hold because of our country’s government’s decision. How do we still fundraise during this time?
You need to be clear about what you expect for your timeline for bringing programming back and what your decision-making process will look like. While you might not have all of the immediate answers, tell your stakeholders how you expect this to impact your programs and services. Be clear about the fact that you expect to bring your services back to full at some point in the near future and you may not be able to do that if fundraising ceases.
What advice do you have for arts education providers who might be considered low on the totem pole for contributions?
Focus on earned revenue and other creative ways to drive funds into your organization knowing that the emergency response funds and donor-advised giving will likely be directed to health and human service organizations. If there are ways to amp up revenue-generating services, at-home programming, and small-dollar online programs, think about those sorts of things rather than traditional fundraising right now. Consider offering fee-based online sessions for those experiencing social isolation during this time of social distancing and closures.