When the world is turned topsy-turvy in ways that are scary and upsetting, as it is now during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, you should reach out to the people closest to your organization and offer your support.
Not only will it come back in spades, but it will make you feel better and give you peace of mind that you are doing something productive when it feels like so many things are outside of your control.
3 Ways to Help Donors During the COVID Crisis
Below are three simple ways to do that. Adapt each of them to fit your organization.
1. Lend an Ear
Social distancing makes people hungry to connect. And with phone and video chat, that’s easy to do. As fundraisers, we’re naturally good listeners, and in times of crisis, people often need someone to simply listen.
While the cornerstone of effective fundraising is grounded in personal visits, face-to-face meetings are simply not possible right now.
The good news is that everyone is home. So, pick up the phone and call your donors. They will be glad to connect and commiserate, as well as to have someone to chat with. Of course, the conversation shouldn’t focus on your needs, but on the needs of your donors during this stressful time.
Pay extra special attention to the elderly.
Older people are one of the groups that’s most at risk from the Coronavirus. Scan your list of top donors. Email or call your older donors to see how they are and ask if they need help. Pay particular attention to older people who live alone. While you may not be able to deliver groceries, you may be able to recommend a delivery service, or help coordinate with a neighbor to check in on them.
A simple phone call can help alleviate their anxiety. Be sure they have your contact information in case they wish to call you back.
While you’re sitting at home, take pen to paper. Write one or two handwritten letters per day to your top donors. Let them know you’re thinking of them and hope they are doing well. Provide your phone number in case they wish to call you. Let them know you’re available to talk.
2. Share a Story
It’s easy to get caught up in your own problems. Your job is to connect people and share what’s happening from the point of view of your clients and your organization. Send a weekly update about what you see and how you’re handling the situation.
Share stories via email to give supporters the flavor of what’s going on from the perspective of your clients. How are they coping? What do they need? Give donors a chance to help.
You might set up times during which you invite your community to come together virtually to get the most recent information. Host a group video call with a report from your executive on the state of the sector.
3. Provide Ways to Pay it Forward
If you see overwhelming need in the community you serve, invite people to make a special gift that will enable you to address the situation more fully.
Your donors are likely wrapped up in their own lives but would gladly help if given the opportunity. It will give them some relief from focusing on their own problems. Those who can give, will. It’s up to you to offer them the opportunity to help those in need.
You might even consider providing a list of organizations in your community that you believe are doing critical work at this difficult time. You will not lose donors by being generous and caring. In fact, you are likely to make them more loyal to you in the future.
Let’s Support Each Other During These Difficult Times
Remember — during times of crisis, when the future is uncertain and people are unnerved, it’s up to all of us to come together (virtually and by phone, in this case) to support and look after each other. Doing something proactive is also a great way to feel a little more normal during such abnormal times.
Stick together… from a distance. We’ll get through this. And if we’re generous and nimble, we’ll come out stronger in the end.