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.