10 Steps to Fundraising in a Crisis

Pandemics are exhausting, right?

In just a few weeks, organization and church leaders have learned to pivot their work to online while figuring out how to keep their staff and pay the bills with a marked reduction in income. The world (and funding) may have slowed down, but our missions did not, so how do we survive to keep serving our people?

I have good news. The Church and its ministries have been around for ages. We have seen crises before. We’ve always been the first to help, but we have haven’t done it alone. Alongside us have been individuals and groups who believe in the difference we are making in the world, and those are the people we need right now.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve spoken with many organization and church leaders who are all saying the same things. They are struggling financially, but they feel inconsiderate or guilty asking for help.

May I free you from that lonely prison of budget spreadsheets?

  1. No matter how well we stewarded the donor dollar or set aside a reserve fund, no one was prepared for this. This situation is not a result of bad planning or leadership. The whole world is experiencing this at the same time.
  2. You have permission to ask for what you need, just like you would want the people you serve to ask for what they need. It’s not inconsiderate; it’s transparent. My guess is it is exactly the vulnerable, community feeling you have been trying to create with your missions all along.

Here’s what we know from former crises. Organizations that stopped communicating with their members and donors did not fare as well on the other side as those who kept going. For some reason, we think it’s the nice thing to do to disconnect, that we are giving them a break while they are likely struggling as well. However, it tends to have the opposite effect, and they are less likely to reengage in the future.

We also know that there are three phases of fundraising in a crisis—the bump, the slump, and the surge. At the beginning of a crisis, for those who ask, there is often a bump in donations because your people are worried about you. As the crisis wears on, the slump hits, dropping below normal levels for a couple of months. Organizations who continue communicating during that time see a surge in giving a few months later. Organizations who don’t communicate during a crisis drop below normal giving rates and rarely recover.

In sum, you should absolutely be asking. Your people are expecting to hear from you. Learning to fundraise or develop an emergency campaign do not sound like the easiest or most fun things on your quarantine bucket list, but I’ve got you covered.

Get the guide, 10 Steps to Fundraising in a Crisis for manageable action steps to weather this storm.

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