How are you doing? Wherever you are, I hope you and yours are successfully navigating the storms that continue to unfold around us. Please drop me a line and let’s check in with each other. In the meantime, I’ve got a few tips & thoughts to share on maintaining and building community during pandemic:
Stay in touch with all your stakeholders.
(But be super quick about it.) Keep your entire “family” in the fold. (In addition to your donors, keep up communications with your clients, staff, volunteers, and community stakeholders.) ...
A very short email telling your stakeholders what’s going on with your org and how you’re handling current operations may be all that is required at the moment.
These are trying times for everyone. Your donors have a lot on their minds, too. Many of our biggest supporters have lost their jobs or have shut down their businesses. This is an opportunity to tell your community how important they are to you. Just as you’re checking in with them, maybe you can invite them to check in with you. Kind words of caring are good medicine for everyone.
Empathy requires honesty.
If your need is urgent, be forthright about that. If you need some help, be sure to ask for it. In your communications, don’t pretend that it’s “business as usual” for your org. As nonprofits across the country continue to adjust, cope, and pivot, now is the time to raise funds for general operations, not project specific activities. Still, under the current circumstances you should only ask for money now if you really need it.
Don’t get bogged down on fundraising events.
Many orgs are obviously postponing or canceling their annual fundraising events. Virtual events are becoming more popular, but they are not easy to do. Putting on a virtual event still incurs overhead and requires a good deal of planning. This is not to say you abandon virtual-community-building efforts. Building community is vital. But do not scramble to do a virtual gala. I would suggest that it is better to be innovating new ways to strengthen stakeholder relations that don’t require events at all. (And I would make that suggestion even if pandemic were not at our doors.)
Innovate stakeholder engagement.
Maybe there are more ways for donors and stakeholders to be more involved with your operations? In one upcoming episode of the Nonprofit SnapCast, I talk with Patrina Pelton-Smith about board recruiting, even during pandemic. Board service isn’t for everyone, but there are certainly other ways to open the door for your donors and volunteers to play a part and stay emotionally connected to your mission.