OpEd: Nonprofits Must Use Innovative Fundraising Methods in Covid Times

Charitable organizations are getting creative with socially distant fundraisers and donation drives. (Getty Images)

By Kenneth Cerini
Managing Partner, Cerini & Associates, L.L.P.

While the world has definitely opened up a little more in 2021, we are all still feeling the lingering strain of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are still many people who have not recovered from being out of work, or being isolated, or losing a loved one. Many of them have turned to the tremendous network of nonprofit organizations that provide help and support on pretty much every level. As a result, nonprofit health and welfare organizations have seen a tremendous uptick in demand for services, and conversely, arts and cultural organizations have been devastated in their inability to provide services. In either case, this has created a tremendous need for additional discretionary resources by nonprofit organizations.

Overall, the nonprofit sector saw an uptick in giving in 2020, but that increase barely kept pace with inflation. In a time of rising demand, as we have been experiencing, this has put a tremendous strain on nonprofit finances. Luckily for most nonprofits, the holiday season is a time when most people get their Ebenezer Scrooge on (the post visitation by the three-spirits version) and reach into their crypto wallets, stock portfolios, or, for the more traditional donors, checkbooks, to spread the holiday joy.

It also means that prospective donors are going to be bombarded with appeals at all levels. So how do you get your message heard above the clatter of all of those virtual bell ringers?

  • Monitor: Messaging that worked before may not work now. Monitor your campaigns when necessary.

  • Make your campaign targeted: Find out what draws your donors to your organization and target your messaging.  One size does not fit all, so break up your messaging across your audience.

  • Videos work: People don’t really like to read. Tell your story in an impactful video, and don’t forget the “donate here” button at the end.

  • Retention: Help make your donors repeat givers. How? Show them their impact and yours (give them a backstage tour). Communicate with them regularly.

  • Make communications personal: Who is donating? What is their demographic? 

  • Keep real issues in your messaging: The pandemic isn’t over. What is your organization doing to combat the issue we all face on a daily basis? Is your story still relevant in this “new normal?” How do you need to pivot to ensure it is?

  • Continue to diversify revenue streams. How the fundraiser has changed over the last two years and will continue to change. We can’t go back to our galas and dinners

  • Elevate what you have done over the last two years. What has worked and what hasn’t? Can you add a virtual component to your fundraising? 

If Covid has taught us anything, it is how to pivot to remain relevant. Now is the time to do it again. Happy fundraising!

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.

More from our Sister Sites