In the fundraising world, we spend a lot of time talking about potential disruptors in the marketplace. We plan for everything…postage increases…election years…email and mail delivery challenges…but how do we cope with the current situation where a national health crisis has the potential to disrupt organization’s fundraising outcomes for the foreseeable future.
Before this article goes any further, it is important to note that we agree that public health is the ultimate concern – and we fully support decisions made in attempts to keep the global population as protected as possible. And of course, the ultimate priority is safety.
That said, in the midst of this coping remains fundraising goals and budgets that support people in a variety of ways. People will still need help – help that is delivered in large part by the dollars raised through direct marketing. To the best extent possible, we will need to keep our foot to the pedal and keep the path.
Here are 6 tips to help you navigate through the coming weeks and months:
- CREATE CONTINGENCY PLANS NOW. With much uncertainty, especially as it pertains to whether folks will continue to work on-site, or remotely, dedicate time and space to discussing and confirming telework policies. Ensure technological needs will support this type of remote policy (i.e. video calls, ftp site access, scanner, printer, access to necessary payment methods for administrative needs, etc.) and test functionality ahead of time.
- SYSTEM TEST! For organizations with a strong monthly giving program (or really any monthly giving program at all) – this revenue line-item can help sustain your program through times of great challenge. Test your systems now (credit card recapture, delinquency, etc.) to ensure that all processes are working correctly. These ‘devil in the detail moments’ can be time consuming on the front end, but will pay dividends in the future, especially if this disruptor is especially prolonged.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR LIABILITY. There are many ways fundraising can be impacted in situations like this. Everything from production timelines (due to premiums being shipped from overseas…to slow mail delivery because of regional impacts … to decreased performance linked to economic concerns caused by the epidemic). Creating budget scenarios to understand relative scenarios can be helpful for planning and expectation setting. No one has a crystal ball, but understanding potential losses can be helpful. We can look back to other widespread health crises like SARS and the Bird Flu for some context, although likely different as the level of media coverage with COVID-19 is significantly heightened.
- CONFIRM AND/OR DEVELOP MESSAGING. For some organizations, this disruption presents a fundraising moment. For example, if your organization is in the health vertical and in some way involved in helping manage/solve this challenge, there is likely an opportunity for cross-channel messaging to drive engagement and revenue. For other organizations who are not directly involved, there might still be an opportunity to adjust messaging (as relevant) so your organization’s message doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. We must remember, now more than ever, that donors don’t live in a bubble, and the news of this particular ‘day’ is overwhelming and stressful. Recognize and remember this as you are planning and executing campaigns that will hit in the next several months.
- DOCUMENT AND TRACK. While it seems we will never forget stressful news events, as time goes by, memories can weaken. Document significant events within this crisis (like the beginning of the crisis, peak of the crisis, etc.) on your program’s historic timeline. Tracking current events can help create correlative impacts throughout the years.
- REMAIN NIMBLE. During times of significant disruption, flexibility is key. It is essential to continually monitor the situation, and your program’s performance, in order to make necessary ‘last minute’ adjustments to strategies and campaigns. In extreme cases, this could mean canceling entire efforts, limiting their scope and/or changing the audience. It will also be essential to keep any test findings in mind (during this time). There is a possibility that testing can be skewed during times of change – and this will only be compounded as we get closer to the 2020 election.
As we forge ahead in the coming weeks and months, we will need to rely on the foundational elements of each individual program. While these elements will not be foolproof, they will help mitigate the risk for each program.
At MINDset we are committed to ensuring our partner’s work/mission continue, uninterrupted. MINDset employees are set up to work virtually and will continue to operate as normal. We will be working with our clients regarding in-person meetings to ensure the health and safety of our employees and partners.
If you have any questions, or there is anything additional that the MINDset team can do for you, please reach out to us by contacting either Candice Briddell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Erica O’Brien at email@example.com. Also, for more information, please check out the three links below:
Keep calm and don’t forget – wash your hands! And if you get bored, here are some tunes to hum while you de-germ.