Covid-19 Week 3: Working Through the Stages of Change

The Stages of Change
Managing the Stages of Change in the Covid-19 Age

It is week three of Covid19 Fundraising, and we are starting to know more.  We now understand that we will have several more weeks of this new normal ahead.  We should be actively focused on working through the stages of grief and change and hopefully getting settled in to move our organizations forward.  This is the time for professional fundraisers to step to the fore and to engage in our most important work. 

Here are our three quick thoughts for this week: 

1) Stay Positive.

Why is everyone telling us to stay positive?  Because right now it’s HARD.  We don’t know what’s ahead, and that lack of certainty creates anxiety and doubt.  So, it’s best to focus on what we do know.  We know that the nonprofit sector is resilient, we know that people still believe in our missions, and that in past recessions and downturns people still continue to give.  What else do you know about your organization, and what decisions have been made in the short-term and in your plans for the next few months? Certainly, some important decisions have been made that should be shared with your stakeholders, friends and loyal donors.  As we have stated in our earlier postings, communication with our constituents is essential, and it should be done with transparency, sincerity and authenticity to lock in the trust relationship you have with donors and stakeholders. 

Seventy percent of fundraisers participating in one of the “virtual” AFP-ICON sessions say that they have not revised their fundraising goals for the year.  These professionals have adapted to the times, adjusted their plans, revised their messages and are staying positive!

2) Use Challenging Times to Focus.

At the risk of exhausting all the fundraising clichés ever coined, the glass is still half full.  Focus on the essential fundamentals of success.  If we don’t ask, we won’t get.  So, use the difficulty of these days to heighten your senses and focus on the essentials of sound fundraising practices. Demonstrate your professional knowledge and expertise to your colleagues. Begin with your case and adjust your message and talking points to the current times, engage and involve volunteers, and ask for support when you are ready and when it is appropriate.  If your organization is on the front lines of the pandemic as a healthcare or social service provider, then your role as a fundraiser is essential and clear.  If the mission of your organization is not immediately tied to Covid-19 then your relationship to the future of your institution is of equal and perhaps greater importance to its future strength and stability.  

3) Don’t assume!  You don’t know what the donor thinks . . . until you ask them.

Maintaining a focus on the donor’s perspective is absolutely essential today.  You need to resist the urge to decide for your donor whether or not they are interested in giving to your organization at this time. The decision to give is up to your donor.  Your obligation is to continue to provide them with the opportunity to invest in your mission.  The current times of course call for increased sensitivity and increased personalization.  The need to segment donors and personalize your message and ask is of greatest importance today.  The number and type of organizations spread across our nation, the methods previously employed to encourage support and the numbers and types of donors are simply too broad to make any type of generalized comments about how to make a request for a contribution. The best advice is to segment and to specialize.  Do your homework, reach out, talk to friends, colleagues, board members, volunteers, advisors, and donors, and ask them for advice and input.  You will quickly learn a great deal from those closest to you about how your organization’s message is perceived during Covid-19 and how to best move forward.

Stay positive and focused, and rest assured that our work as professional fundraisers is essential.  Be well, stay healthy, and give us a call.  Together, we will overcome these challenges

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