Bonding with your donors
& the importance of
demonstrating your impact

during the COVID-19 crisis



It is a challenging time...

But be positive and take this time to strengthen
relationships with existing donors, volunteers and
supporters who believe in your mission.

Challenging times impact everyone. Being sensitive to
the challenges your donors, volunteers and supporters
may be experiencing and offering to help where
possible is an important part of nurturing and
strengthening relationships.


The dramatic changes that are taking place with the Covid-19 crisis are having a real impact
on our communities across the country. It is clear that at least in the short to medium term,
it will also have an impact on how our communities respond to requests for donations from
for-purpose organisations. Some organisations will require emergency appeals to meet the
increasing needs of those they serve. We have already seen donors begin to respond
positively to those organisations. Other organisations will need to work through the
challenges of continuing to meet the needs of beneficiaries that may not be so
obvious during this crisis and so perhaps not so obvious to their supporters. Regardless of
the situation your organisation is in, you must remain positive and take this time to
strengthen relationships with existing donors, volunteers and supporters who believe
in your mission.

These important stakeholders care about your cause and are as much a part of your team as
your staff, board and beneficiaries. In challenging times, looking out for each other and
having open authentic conversations with your supporters is as important as those
conversation you have with your team. Challenging times impact everyone. Being sensitive to
the challenges your donors, volunteers and supporters may be experiencing and offering to
help where possible is an important part of nurturing and strengthening relationships.


Don’t neglect your donors’ generosity, regardless of the value,
especially first time donors. There is evidence that donors who
stopped supporting specific for-purpose organisations during or
after a crisis did so primarily because they no longer felt
connected to them.

Organisations that stay connected and engage with
their key stakeholders emerge successfully.


Giving in all its forms to charities typically follows economic trends down, although not as
dramatically, and then back up during the subsequent economic recovery. Donors, when
they can, continue to respond generously to causes they care about when those causes can
demonstrate they are meeting a need and making a difference during troubled times. Don’t
neglect your donors’ generosity, regardless of the value, especially first time donors. Often
those who give during a crisis represent a much greater lifetime value than those who give
during the good times. For that reason, think carefully before reducing resources and
activities that lead to first time donors, or could. The single most common reason people
give to any cause, typically 85% of the time, is because they are asked.

This does not change during an economic crisis, but it can shift during the current health
crisis because of restrictions, fear and financial impact. As such being sensitive to the
impact of Covid-19 on your donors is important. In challenging times, organisations that stay
connected and engage with their key stakeholders emerge successfully. These situations
offer an important time to demonstrate their relevance and strengthen relationships with
donor. There is evidence that donors who stopped supporting specific for-purpose
organisations during or after a crisis did so primarily because they no longer felt connected
to them. Therefore, in times like this communicating, developing, maintaining and nurturing
relationships with people who care about your cause and are connected to your
mission is important. This can be simply phrased as ‘bonding’ with your donors.


Bonding with your donors

Our advice to you and your team is to reach out to
your donors, supporters and volunteers and provide
them an update. Below is an overview of how we
would typically recommend this approach:



Informing communication with donors, volunteers and supporters:

Keep your donors, volunteers and supporters fully informed and deeply
engaged. In times like this, they care and will want to know how these
events are impacting your organisation and understand what actions are
being taken. Use video where possible as to replace the inability to be
face to face. Use technology to connect with donors.


Avoid immediate cancellation of fundraising plans:

While events planned for the short term need to be cancelled,
evaluate your overall fundraising plans and strategies thoughtfully.


Make reasonable adjustments, particularly timing depending on the
circumstances and events that are rapidly changing. Review the situation
fortnightly. It is better to postpone than cancel where possible, unless it’s
an annual event in which case you need to consider cancellation. Look to
digitise alternative outcomes to compensate this loss if possible


Support the development of a short-term action plan:

Develop a plan of action, including a communications plan to cover the
next four weeks, featuring an initiative of personal calls, video calls and
emails to key donors and friends.


Motivate internal and external stakeholders:

It is a time to reflect on and remember the resilience of philanthropy in
difficult times. Donors who feel engaged and connected will continue to
support, especially in times of crisis when the need is clear and well
understood. Authentic regular communication is critical at this
time so donors are engaged and can be ready to give where possible
or when their situation improves.


Leverage technology where appropriate:

Find ways to more effectively incorporate video calls, podcasts, or virtual
briefings that make meetings more dynamic and create more personal
experiences regardless of distance.

They will be interested in knowing how the organisation is responding to
the current situation, how are those who depend on the organisation
being helped, any events being cancelled or postponed, how employees
are being cared-for, how operations are impacted and if are there
changes to service delivery.


Show empathy and concern for your donor:

Everyone is impacted by COVID-19 in some way. Giving is a two-way
street and donors want to know that you value them and are concerned
about their welfare as well. Offer any resources that might be helpful to
your donors if possible. For example, if you have elderly donors, donors
who have committed a bequests or prospective donors you are currently
engaging with, contact them first. Be authentic and genuinely offer help.


It may feel like now is a
moment to pause or delay
fundraising activity but...


it is very important to note that in previous downturns, those who
continued to push forward in their efforts with suitable adjustments to
their plans ultimately succeeded, and those who took a step back lost
ground. During every major disasters or financial crisis in recent history, it
felt like it was unprecedented.

It is encouraging to know that during those times humanity survived, and
philanthropy thrived. Even today, despite the chaos, we
can see that generous giving continues.

If you’d like to discuss anything mentioned on this page, or chat about your own organisation’s situation and response, please feel free to contact Clive or Iyanthi directly.
 

Clive Pedley
Email:   clive@givingarchitects.com
Mobile: +64 272 484 371
 

Iyanthi Wijayanayake
Email:   iyanthi@givingarchitects.com
Mobile: +64 21 618 363