COVID-19 fundraising principles

Response.

If you’re going to raise money for your beneficiaries and/or cause during the pandemic, follow these principles, and you’ll raise more money.

Note: Everything I’m about to say assumes one important thing – the current pandemic situation impacts your organization, cause, and/or beneficiaries. That could be the virus. It could be the economy. It could be travel restrictions. In other words, that there are “new or more needs” that you’re dealing with.

Here are the principles Better Fundraising is living by as we work with clients:

Speed matters. Sometime soon, several hundred thousand organizations are going to realize they’re in trouble and are going to send out e-appeals. You want to beat them to your donors’ inboxes. Don’t wait until the next vacancy in your communication schedule – cancel what’s coming next and replace it with something urgent.

Volume matters. Your donors’ attention is more fragmented than usual. That means your email open rates are going to drop by 20%. Your direct mail open rates will drop too. That means fewer people will see what you send out. And if fewer people see what you send out, you raise less money. So you need to send out more things.

Simplicity matters. You have less of your donors’ attention than you normally do. If your donor usually reads two paragraphs of your email before deciding whether to read the rest, for the next weeks, she’s only going to read one paragraph. So you have to get to the point quickly, and you have to keep it very simple.

Acute needs raise money. We’ve already seen this several times in the last five days. If your beneficiaries or organization is facing a critical need, share it with your donors. Donors LOVE acute needs.

So if your beneficiaries are short of rent money because their service industry jobs have been slashed, ask your donors to provide rent money. If you’re $1 million event was just canceled, ask donors to help erase your $1 million shortfall.

Make it clear – make it simple. Resist the urge to over-explain. Send it fast.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a video I made with an 8-point outline for a successful e-appeal.

Good luck out there!

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