Covid-19 & Nonprofits Part 2: Organizations

Why fundraise now?

  • From human services to arts & culture, you fill a void and need to be proud of that.
  • You need to focus on sustainability.
    • Your clients depend on you.
    • Your staff needs you.
    • You still have bills.
  • You are part of the global economy.
    • Your work creates security and livelihood.
    • Livelihood creates needs and demands that will stabilize the resources available to everyone.

Whom to ask?

  • Small organizations with little brand recognition need to lean on their existing, major donors.
  • If you don’t think that you have major donors, look again.
  • If you’re a small organization, your major donors will not be $10,000 donors.
  • What you consider to be a large gift depends upon your operating budget.
  • Regardless of the size of your organization, pick a minimum of ten people to ask.


  • You must make the requests for funds personal. Do not use blanket emails.
  • Any correspondence needs tailoring, such as, “Dear Stacey, Thank you so much for your donation of $100.00 for the past three years…”
  • Make your case for sustainability. You could use ideas from my post Covid-19 and Nonprofits Part 1: Donors.
  • You need to explain and be honest about the percentage of funds that you will put into sustaining the organization and the amount of funds that you will put into programs.
  • Demonstrate your integrity by making your financial statements available. The easiest way to do this is send, when asked, the first two pages of your tax return.
  • Wait for a “No.” Don’t be pushy, but don’t be shy. Ask again for a gift renewal. Wait more time, call, and ask for a partial renewal.
  • I cannot emphasize this enough. Always be specific about how much that donor has given in the past and for how long.
  • Since you are targeting small numbers of people, you need to include a handwritten note with donor receipts. At the very least, send a postcard.

Solicit ideas from your community.

  • Pick a subject, such as how to jump back into community outreach, and survey clients and volunteers.
  • Interview people.
  • Run focus groups.
  • Keep people involved.

Social Media

  • Every grant deserves a match.
  • Use social media to announce your recent grant awards and your need for community matches.
  • Set consistent goals that will create positive buzz.
    • “We just received a reward of $5,000. We need $5,000 to keep going. Please, donate.”
    • “Thus far, the community’s support has raised $7,500 in funds. Can you contribute to the $2,500 push?”
    • “Great news, we only need $1,000 to match our original $5,000 grant. Won’t you help?”
  • Run similar campaigns with the sum of your board giving.
  • Use social media to remind people that they may select you as a birthday charity or Amazon Smiles beneficiary.
  • Don’t always ask directly for money. Report on the good that you are doing and have done. Share what came of your brainstorming sessions. While you should always include a “donate now” link, don’t put that front and center if you are writing a public relations piece.

Be thorough.

  • As a donor advisor, I’ve worked with donors who became irritated because they, the donor, dropped off of the radar of the nonprofit.
  • When a donor gives you 1% of the operating budget, that donor expects to be asked again.
  • When a donor buys table after table to your fundraising event every year, that donor expects you to ask again.
  • It’s unfortunate if you ask the donor for a donation, and the response is, “Not at this time.”
  • The worst result of overlooking a donor would be missing the opportunity to reconnect and build towards future organizational stability.