Fundraising in the Time of Crisis

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

With the COVID-19 virus closing campuses, canceling concerts, suspending athletic contests, and infecting thousands, you might wonder how this scourge will affect your fundraising efforts.

This too shall pass. I keep a note on my desk that reads “All of this is temporary” to remind myself to take the long view even when daily stresses seem overwhelming. This crisis, too, is temporary. And so far, many donors remain optimistic that the economy will come roaring back in the near future.

Don’t take your foot off the pedal. With events and meetings canceled, and nonstop media alerts distracting us, it may be easy to get complacent about fundraising. But your mission hasn’t changed, and the urgency of your work has not abated. Keep communicating with donors about your organization’s long-term goals and impact.

Use your time well. When this crisis is over, what will you have achieved in fundraising? You may have fewer donor meetings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tackle other tasks. For instance, expand your pool of prospects, update marketing materials, refresh your fundraising plan, clean up your donor database, or consider big initiatives from your strategic plan. In short, set some goals for the team so precious time is not wasted and you are better positioned when work gets back to normal.

Embrace new communication tools. You may not be jumping on a plane anytime soon. So be flexible and give donors multiple ways to “meet” whether that is over the telephone or via video conferencing.

Be compassionate but stay focused. This is a time to show our concern for our families, our colleagues, and our supporters, especially those who are most vulnerable. But it is also a time to remain focused on the other serious issues facing our nation that will impact our lives long after COVID-19 subsides.

Be safe, be well, and carry on!

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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