A Winning Fundraiser During COVID-19 by Peter J. Mahler
Deliver a Fundraiser that Stands Out during COVID-19
It can be challenging to help your fundraiser rise “above the noise” during the best of times. But while our nation’s economy is struggling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, meeting your fundraising goals is even more difficult. So, how can you run an effective campaign?
Before you can even think about convincing others to donate to your cause, make sure your message is clear. Why is your organization important? How do your goals help the community at large? You will need to show potential donors what’s at stake if you don’t raise enough money. In these difficult economic times, many people don’t have money to spare, and those who do feel pulled in many different directions. They want to know their donation is vital—so show them!
The possibilities are limitless when you’re raising money online. For years, crowdfunding campaigns have leveraged the power of social media to spread the word. But since March 2020, Americans have become even more creative in offering online content and opportunities to donate money. Here are just a few of the options you can try:
- Virtual run/walk – Most of these events have been canceled due to social distancing restrictions, so thousands of organizers are transferring them online. Participants run or walk on their own, log their distance online, and receive t-shirts and/or other favors they would have earned had the event been in person.
- Virtual talent show – You know the people you serve have talents. Why not showcase them? Request registrations in advance and create virtual tickets, which give viewers access to the show. Depending on your fundraising goals, you can charge a fee for access or make it free, asking for freewill donations during the event.
- Online auction – Did your plans to run a live auction this year fall through? Never fear—you can just take it online! Actually, an online auction is easier to run than an in-person event because you can more easily track bids and participants can bid from anywhere.
In-person fundraisers are a little trickier in this era of COVID-19, but they’re still achievable. In most situations, they take the form of the hosting group offering a service to potential donors. It’s key, however, to prioritize safety above everything else. Instruct members of your group to use masks when near each other and donors, and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for proper disinfection of all materials.
Many people—especially those who are self-isolating—have a need for extra help. Publish a list—either online or distributed on paper throughout the neighborhood—of tasks your organization can perform for a donation. This list could include mowing the lawn, picking up groceries, doing yard work or walking dogs.
Food Delivery Service
Organizations love to raise money by hosting a food-centered event, such as a barbecue. You can still have a socially distanced event! Solicit orders online or through physical order forms, and then deliver the orders to customers’ doors. They need not accept the orders in person—you can just text them after you walk away to alert them that they should come to their door.
Many people’s inboxes and social media sites are now filled with invitations to virtual fundraisers and requests for donations. It’s up to you to find that “magic bullet”—the hook that will entice potential donors to choose your cause. Incentives are a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Think about what your audience wants and offer it as a reward for donating. What items are hard to find in your area? You could offer a container of disinfectant wipes, a packet of yeast or some other item that would appeal to those whom you’re trying to attract. One humane society in Wisconsin even pledged to give every donor a handmade (and often hilariously poor) drawing of the donor’s pet!
You may feel like the pandemic has tied your hands, but actually, it has just given you the freedom to be more creative.
Peter Mahler is the Vice President of Underwriting for Religious Markets at Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer). Church Mutual® is the leader in providing property-casualty insurance and risk management innovations for houses of worship, nonprofit organizations, religious schools, and other organizations that serve others.
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