Here we go again fundraisers. As if the last few years haven’t been tough enough. But hey, having weathered more than our fair share of crises in recent times, at least we have this in our favour: We are battle hardened.
Many organisations learned the hard way in 2008 that in challenging times, simply battening down the hatches and doing nothing is not a solution. It just means that when some form of normality returns, you’re way behind the rest of the pack and may never make up ground again.
But there’s another dimension to the current situation that makes keeping in touch with supporters not just a financial necessity, but almost a moral responsibility. Let’s face it, there’s some scary shit going on. Many people are anxious, lonely, confused. So it’s time to ask not just what our supporters can do for us. But what we can do for them.
Here are just a few thoughts:
Let them know you’re thinking of them.
It’s all too painfully clear that this virus is affecting everyone – including your supporters. If you’re a health charity, it may be affecting them very directly. How worried must people with MS, asthma or cancer be right now? But if you’re a dog charity your supporters might be worrying how their best friend is going to get a walk.
So take a really good look at how this situation is impacting on your supporters. And then consider how can you use your organisation’s experience, expertise and resources to advise and support them.
Let them know you’re on it.
Because, of course, the virus is affecting your beneficiaries too. Your supporters need to know – deserve to know – what you’re doing to keep those beneficiaries as safe and well as possible.
If keeping them well is costing you extra money, then maybe it’s appropriate to ask your supporters for a donation to support that extra work. But it’s fine not to ask too. It may cost you money to keep them up to date now, but it will earn you loyalty and greater generosity further down the line.
Show them you get it.
You may not have to cancel every comm that you’ve currently got in the pipeline. But you certainly will need to review each one of them through the lens of the current moment to see if they’re still fit for purpose.
What will your supporters make of each message now? What do you need to add, change or take away to make sure it is in tune with the new times? Or do you simply have to bite the bullet and put it on hold all together?
Stay in touch with them…
If you’ve been having trouble getting the green light on your digital first strategy, coronavirus just changed the agenda. We all have to live online now, whether we like it or not. And we’re all having to adapt to it very fast.
This is not a temporary glitch. Ways of working will be changed forever by this experience. So how are you going to keep in touch? From online events to e-gaming, you may have to rethink all your fundraising offers in digital form.
But that doesn’t mean forgetting the physical world all together. Something tangible coming through the letter box could prove to be a very welcome diversion in a world of lockdown. And people are going to have plenty of time to actually read and engage with it.
…and help them stay in touch with you and others.
Having to tackle Face Time, Messenger, Teams or Zoom for the first time could be a real challenge for some of your supporters. How can you help them meet that challenge?
Establish new channels of communication with them now as a means of support, and those channels will remain open to you for years to come.
Keep them safe.
This is not the time to be asking donors to go to the post box to send you a donation. So even if you are communicating with them offline, show them you’ve thought about this. Remind them that the safe way to give is by text or online.
There’s going to be some bored folk out there pretty soon. How can you keep them company?
Already social platforms are starting to actually become social again. Sadly, there’s still plenty of unpleasantness out there. But there’s some real heart-warming, entertaining and just plain funny stuff too. And there’s a lot of good feeling for the people who are sharing it.
So how can you add to the positive side of social? It may be through non-transactional sharing. Or it may be that now is the time to launch that brilliant subscription box idea that you couldn’t get backing for a week or two ago.
Allow them to keep giving.
When people are in trouble, it can be a natural reflex to stop asking them for donations. But it is in times of trouble that people most want to do something to help. Even – perhaps especially – when that trouble is impacting them directly. Donating can be an antidote to the feeling of powerlessness.
The tone of your asking is likely to be very different. But make sure you’re not denying anybody the opportunity to make a difference.
Think about them every day.
Things are changing so fast that everything we’ve said here could be out of date by the time you read it. So you need to keep thinking every day. How is this impacting our supporters now? What do they need from us? What do we need from them? Where do the two overlap? Find that sweet spot and fill it.
At DK we’ll be thinking about your challenges every day too. We won’t have all the answers. But we will keep exploring the big questions. If you think it might be helpful to talk them over together, then do please get in touch.