How Nonprofits Can Manage the Post-COVID Impact

As fundraisers and nonprofit consultants, we have learned very valuable lessons from the COVID crisis. Nonprofits were under extremely trying circumstances as they attempted to quickly adapt their systems and programs and were forced to stretch their already limited resources and funding. As nonprofits continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, the question remains: what’s next?

Over the past few months, we have spoken and worked with many nonprofits that are worrying about how they will continue to sustain important programs, services and funding sources. These organizations foresee deep scars and a struggle to return to pre-COVID strength. We continue to advise organizations that adaptability and agility will be important in navigating the economic and societal uncertainties, shifting priorities and in building a strong organizational foundation to tackle the post-COVID future.

As nonprofits begin to transition and plan for life after this pause, here are some key takeaways and tips in helping nonprofits to adapt to the impact of the crisis while building the future.

Realign Your Strategy & Fundraising Plans

If your organization has not already done so, now is the time to step in and temporarily realign your organization’s strategy and fundraising plans. Instead of looking at your plans on a one, three or five-year level, refocus and reevaluate at the one, three to six-month mark to rethink and refine your nonprofits goals, objectives and metrics.

Review your organization’s funding needs and how the crisis has resulted in changed priorities. Conduct funder research to find good prospects for new and emerging services. Emphasize donor engagement and retention.

Reevaluate and continue to review your organization’s annual grant proposal and development calendar and update it frequently. Additionally, consider mimicking a year-end appeal now instead of year-end. Donors that intend to continue their giving are concerned about the increased need in their communities. Explain how your organization’s mission addresses these needs through personal stories, if possible. When you work to retain your donors while broadening your network of supporters you position your organization to withstand hard times.

Reexamine Your Mission & Vision

Reexamine how your organization frames the value of your work and why your mission matters now. Revisit your vision and how it relates to social impact—the impact you’re trying to create and how you plan to create it. Then share this messaging with your donors, volunteers, partners and staff to educate, rally and motivate.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Continue to prioritize outreach and have honest conversations with your volunteers, donors and stakeholders about the status of your organization to make sure they understand your needs. Ask them direct questions about their plans and intentions so that you can get some sense of the reliability of your revenue streams. If you are finding volunteerism is declining due to health concerns, brainstorm and communicate ways for regular volunteers to be of service, particularly if they can assist from the safety of their homes.

Additionally, ensure that your organization shows appreciation often. Plan for the long term by creating new ways to communicate and engage with your supporters. Use video acknowledgements, hand-written thank you notes, text updates and phone calls from board members to recognize donors, key prospects and volunteers.

Rethink Event Planning

Don’t cancel summer or fall events…rethink them. Events can be a large percentage of annual fundraising plans, consider hosting virtual events, auctions and holding flash fundraisers to replace them.

During this challenging time, Empreinte Consulting, LLC continues to offer our perspectives and lessons learned from years of experience working in nonprofit advisory leadership and consulting positions. Please contact us to learn more about best practices and optimal strategies to help your organization build a path through this crisis and beyond.

How Nonprofits & Philanthropists Can Adapt During COVID-19

This is a unique time in our history as we are all adapting to a new way of living with COVID-19 in our communities.  Nonprofit organizations are living in a world of uncertainty as they must cancel events and limit their interactions with donors. Philanthropic revenue is such a critical part of every nonprofit’s operational budget and there is no question that this virus will put a financial strain on several nonprofits. During this temporary shift in activity, the organizations that plan and strategize will prove to be the most effective moving forward. Ask yourself, will you be prepared to fundraise effectively once this is behind us?

It is easy to panic during these uncertain times and question what steps to take as an organization. However, this may present the perfect opportunity to assess your operations, develop a thoughtful strategic plan and create a clear message of need that will resonate with your donors. Looking inward during this time will allow you to engage your donors in a meaningful way in the future. Nonprofits that are organized, well run and impactful when using philanthropic dollars will continue to be the most appealing to donors and have the greatest impact on our community.

When we council our philanthropic clients, the first thing that we assess is the organizational efficiency of the nonprofits they are looking to support. What is your cost to raise a dollar? How well are you able to clearly articulate the need for philanthropic support and the impact it will have on your mission? Are your nonprofit leaders strategic, thoughtful and mission driven? These are critical questions that will determine whether a donor makes a gift to your nonprofit or chooses another organization. This is especially true for major and principal gift donors.

As an altruistic philanthropist looking to help a mission that is important to you and your family, how do you decide where to allocate your limited budget? This is a critically important question that may not always be easy to answer without proper guidance.

The consultants at Empreinte Consulting bring more than 100 years of collective fundraising experience and are positioned to partner with you during this difficult time. Whether you are a nonprofit looking to develop your strategy and determine how to engage donors, or the philanthropist and corporate leader looking to impact your community, we are here to help. Taking the time now to develop a plan will make all the difference in the world and ensure the greatest impact on our community.

#helpingthosewhohelpothers

 Marc Misiurewicz

President

Empreinte Consulting, LLC

How to Fundraise Effectively

How Can I Fundraise Effectively?

Fundraising is often the foundation for many low- and non-profit organizations. It can be the difference between an entity thriving and folding.  When done inefficiently, fundraising can be an utter waste of time and resources, but when done correctly, it can make all the difference. Here are five steps that you can take to make your fundraising a success. 

1. Set clear expectations. One of the major issues businesses have when it comes to raising money is that not everyone is on the same page regarding expectations. In addition to knowing how much money you wish to raise (the amount you want after expenses are accounted for), it is important that you set up a well researched, thought out strategy in order to achieve your goals. These should be highly focused and take into consideration the organization’s long-term goals. 

2. Budget. In order to keep a good hold on how much your organization is spending, every event necessitates a full budget, itemized by various expenses to be capable of holding the event. This includes things such as space rental, utilities, hired workers, food, and invitations. Your budget should also exist with your fundraising goal in mind. This is so that you end up raising more money than what is necessary to pay for the event. It is also good practice to budget for emergencies or other unforeseen issues. 

3. Clearly define how the funds are to be used. No one wants to donate money when they don’t know where it is going, what it is to be used for, and how that use will help to propel the organization forward in light of its goals. Communicating an internal rate of return (IRR), which demonstrates how a donor’s money is moving the organization towards a sustainable lifespan, is effective for larger donors, who don’t wish to be approached again later on. 

4. Define your target audience. Any plan is inefficient and often ineffective if it does not include a well-defined target audience. It is important to identify which group(s) of people you wish to attend. Your target audience could be anyone and everyone or a specific group of people (e.g. young professionals).

5. Assign the right tasks to the right people. There are several important roles that your team will undertake in order to make the event a success. These include:

  • Askers – These are individuals who understand the skill and timing associated with asking for donations.
  • Connectors – These are the individuals who are well-connected and can help to make valuable introductions.
  • Engagers – These are the relationship builders, who have the ability to communicate well and nurture relationships.
  • Stewards – These are the individuals who interact with, nurture, grow, and promote donor relationships.

It is most important to pair individuals with the positions that play most to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. 

While fundraising can be time-consuming and at times frustrating, when done correctly it can help to achieve goals and relieve financial pressures that may often arise. To learn how to most efficiently and effectively fundraise, it is a good idea to consider a consultant for your team. These individuals have the knowledge and experience necessary to make a huge impact on your organization, so that your organization can continue to make a huge impact on others.