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5 Strategies to Keep Fundraising Alive During Uncertain Times. Nonprofit MBA Podcast 3.13

Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Stephen Halasnik and his Guest Margaret Katz Cann discuss five strategies to keep fundraising alive during uncertain times. There are many circumstances that throw nonprofit organizations for a loop, and uncertain times arise regardless of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, even during difficult and uncertain times, nonprofits are given an opportunity to advocate for their organization’s mission and values.

Strategy One: Have the Proper Attitude

When times get difficult, it is important to keep in mind to be honest. Times of difficulty can cause panic, and in terms of nonprofit fundraising can easily translate to desperation. Instead of viewing fundraising as a task on your “to-do list”, try gaining a new perspective.

When you take on new fundraising ideas, approach funders through a standpoint of truly being able to make an impact. Difficult times depending on the scenario mean that a group or groups of people are being negatively impacted. If your nonprofit aligns with the current crisis of the world or situation that’s great. In that case, this actually gives you a leg up on selling yourself and your nonprofit to funders.

If your nonprofit’s mission doesn’t directly correlate with the crisis going on, this is ok. You might have to work harder, but this actually gives you the opportunity to prove how important your organization is and why it is going to be worthwhile to keep it around.

Strategy Two: Don’t Be Shy

During hard times outreach and solicitations can seem daunting. However, during an uncertain time, you should not be straying away from your fundraising campaign. Strong nonprofit leaders and staff members should take uncertain times as an opportunity to keep sharing your mission and not hide it. Donor communication is also important, and ensure that you are not ignoring major donors during uncertain times. Especially during the Covid-19 crisis to stay inside your house and contact donors less and less.

We know that the best salespeople generally listen 90% of the time and talk 10% of the time, so it is important that when you do reach out, you ask the right questions. For every “salesperson,” your method and style of fundraising are going to be different, so come up with your individual voice, and the voice of the nonprofit as well.

During times of crisis such as a pandemic that limits in-person contact, make sure you attend webinars, in-person events, contact donors via direct mail, and do activities (even virtually) to learn about why your donors care about you during difficult times.

Strategy Three: Don’t Buy Into the Myth That “Nobody Is Making Money”

Even during difficult times such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, we know that there will always be people making money in the world. Even if your personal funds have decreased, that doesn’t mean that there are not people willing to support your mission and fundraising goals. When the stock market is doing well, there are always going to be people with money.

Instead of falling into this lack or scarcity mentality, see where you can redirect your efforts in order to reach the right or new people. The people at the top who have resources have actually been giving to nonprofits in need during these challenging times. Additionally, some nonprofits have even been thriving and doing better in terms of fundraising, because hard times give board members and fundraisers an upper hand to ask for money.

Strategy Four: Get Consistent in Your Messaging and Communications

Fundraising professionals in charge of conveying a message to donors have to ensure they are confident in their ability of the following:

1. Know “Why Am I Here?”

2. Remind the World of Your Nonprofit

3. Make a Compelling Case

After doing these steps, you need to make sure you are able to “rinse and repeat” them over and over. Many successful salespeople whether in business or nonprofits, have all the resources and strategies but don’t implement them correctly. Know how to implement and convey your message and mission, because if you don’t execute it correctly, you likely won’t reach the goals of your fundraising or capital campaign.

Strategy Five: Stop Overplanning For the Future

During a time of crisis, it can be easy to get caught up in planning your finances correctly. It is of course important to make sure you have donations coming in, but it can present a real opportunity to live in the moment. Make the time to reach out to old donors to make sure they are doing okay during difficult times as well.

You might even be surprised that simply checking in with past donors can even put you in the position to receive donations. During difficult times keeping lines of communication open are crucial, and simply interacting with people who have given donations to you in the past can make all the difference.

About the Guest: Margaret Katz Cann, Fundraising Leadership

Margaret believes that, as fundraisers, we are way too often in apology when we ask for money. As a Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), Margaret specializes in executive fundraising coaching, board training, and consulting, Margaret works with nonprofit and startup executives to stop tripping over their ask, to connect to passion and leadership – and step into the world of compelling fundraising.

Margaret’s career has spanned 2+ decades, including both actively fundraising and leading a 5-member team that raised $12 million a year while also overseeing donor relations for a donor-advised fund program.

Prior to falling in love with fundraising, Margaret worked as a journalist.  Her resume includes working at the Associated Press, as well as the Aspen Times and K-USA News.

Margaret holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Cornell University. Margaret is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) through the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI). She also is a graduate of CTI’s Leadership Program.

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