Much has changed but much has stayed the same

Coronavirus has changed our lives more than we could have imagined. In the conversations I’ve had with major gift fundraisers, Chief Executives, and Directors of Fundraising, the theme has been consistent.

“The last 24 hours have been awful, we have turned off every amazing event we had set up for the next 3 months and readied our site for closure today.”

“I’m not sure what to do. I can’t contact my high-net-worth supporters and think I probably need to wait until this blows over.”

“It just feels like the wrong time to be asking our high-net-worth contacts to support the charity.”

It is tough right now, there’s no disputing that. Charities are under immense pressure. Many of us are under immense pressure to raise funds and deliver. The stakes are so high; the people that our charity exists to help need us more than ever, our very charity’s existence, our jobs and livelihoods are at risk.

There are no rules to fundraising in a global pandemic! I’ve written before on the importance of picking up the phone and checking in with supporters in this crisis and although everything seems to have changed, there are some important constants. I hope my suggestions give you confidence that your charity is right to be developing major donor fundraising, and investing time and resource in it now.

1) Your charity needs funds

It did before the pandemic, and it does now. I imagine that pre-Covid, most of you had sleepless nights worrying about your charity’s cashflow, or how to hit income targets.     

Some of you will now have more demand for your charity’s services and be delivering them in different ways.

Some hospices that I’ve worked with are video-calling patients in their homes. There are also music charities now providing concerts on-line.

Whether your services are costing less to deliver than before, or more, you’ll still need funding. If you don’t need it now, you’ll need it over the next 18 months. Now isn’t the time to take your foot off the pedal with major gifts.

2) Human connection is vital for all of us 

This includes the wealthiest in our society. Charities have always been able to connect people to the joy of giving. We’ve done this through building relationships and understanding our donors. We’ve also done this through telling the amazing stories of how our charities make a difference.  Now when we can’t hug some of our loved ones, when we’re surrounded by negative headlines, we need this more than ever. You can give connection and meaning to the lives of high-net-worth individuals.

3) We know high-net-worth individuals care

They cared before Coronavirus and they care now. Some may have given to your charity already and shown this by making that commitment.  Whilst some individuals might not have given to your charity, they may have agreed to meet for coffee or attend your charity’s event – or they took your call between meetings. These are all signs that they care. If this pandemic has proven anything it’s that the outpouring of care, community spirit and love is huge.

“They were really happy to hear from us and intrigued to see how the charity was coping.”

“Our video from our Music Director went down really well, it was a good job.”

“Coronavirus has forced us to make those asks.”

“Talking to a lot of my major donors, I’ve realized how much more open they are to having conversations.”

Philanthropy means love of humankind. Charities and donors connecting gives people the chance to make a difference. You can give them meaning in a world that can sometimes feel as if it’s being turned upside down. 

You may secure some gifts in the short-term, you may not. But you will be remembered because you connected, gave them stories of hope, and were a constant.

Louise Morris is the Founder of Summit Fundraising. She is a major donor fundraising specialist and has worked with over 200 charities helping them raise large gifts.

This was posted on 2 June 2020.


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