Come rain, quake or Corona – you need to generate as much funds for the least amount of resource possible. But as the spreading Corona pandemic forces cancellation of physical events and facers or collectors can’t work the doorbells, what do you do to avoid a funding disaster? Here are 5 tips on how you can turn your physical events into effective, digital fundraising campaigns with a both short- and long-term potential!
As the spreading Covid-19 pandemic forces cancellation of physical events, fundraising directors need to think fast, to avoid the perfect storm of high costs and no raised funds. A situation potentially creating a serious problem in budgets and resource availability, harming your cause and organization in the years to come. We are here to help!
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Insights from some of our 500 NFP’s
Caring is sharing, right? We’ve talked to some of our more than 500 clients amongst the world’s leading nonprofits about the current Coronavirus situation – and in this update we share 5 here-and-now ideas for you to mitigate the Corona-cancellation threatening your budget.
1. Should you cancel your event?
First: Use your sound judgement and follow authority advice. Public health and societal responsibility come first. But if you are planning an event gathering a bunch of people or were planning to have fundraisers ringing doorbells, chances are things will not go as planned. But does that mean you should communicate a cancellation? Here are some other options:
- Instead of cancelling, could you postpone your event? Now, you don’t want to postpone several times, so think at LEAST 12-16 weeks ahead (judging on current prognosis of virus spread).
- People having signed up in the first place, represent a positive energy towards your cause. Redirect that energy instead of blocking it by redesigning your event to be either a digital event (think: Livestreaming, individual efforts connected, etc see later in this post) or broken up into several smaller, local events with only very few attendants – possibly connected digitally.
- The strategy of “Redirecting the energy” can also be leveraged to for example persuade sign-ups to your event to accept not getting a reimbursement based on the event-cancellation by transferring their admission to be a donation to your cause.
2. Keep communicating – and be smart about it
Blockbuster events are often supported by a PR-driven mass-media communications effort. Right now – chances are that media is all focused on “breaking Corona threat”. You will not cut through the clutter – and if you do – your chances of controlling the message is limited. So, cancelling your event or not, here are some communications tips to supplement your PR strategy:
- Keep communicating. In these days of international crisis, it is more important than ever to stick together – all appeals to be considerate, empathetic and altruistic are needed. Reinstate, as clearly as possible to your supporters (in all tiers, corporate as well as individuals), WHY it is as important as ever to support your cause.
- Context, context, context. Construct your messaging strategy so it is in context with what is top of mind for your audience – and have a logical, empathetic trail from opener to call-to-action. If you are talking to individuals, can you segment them into those that could be personally affected (weak, elderly, etc) versus those that should be more focused on responsibility for others? Are you talking to corporates? How can you appeal to their responsibility and support?
- Use your digital platform(s). Lastly, make sure you get through to your segmented audience: Leverage the data available from your digital platforms (you are using a fundraising platform that lets you identify and contact individuals by fx email, right?) and craft messages leading to engagement and donor-action. A Peer-to-Peer platform can be leveraged very effectively in a situation like this.
3. Work the case budget
We all need to pull some weight. We’re all affected. We can all work together to share the burden – this also goes for the specifics of managing your case budget, so that the adverse effects of cancellations or postponements are managed optimally. At the basic level this is about be conscious about the profit/loss equation:
- Negotiate with suppliers proactively. Offer them to be part of your communications effort and showcase how they are part of the solution, instead of profiting from your loss.
- Can you make commitments about next year’s activities to gain leverage in negotiations about the costs associated with the event in case?
- Can you make suppliers part of the now rescheduled or re-purposed event?
- Communicate with corporate and individual donors about repurposing their commitment either to a postponed event – or to your cause, under a different case.
4. Think. Execute. Transform. Now!
During a storm, the meak seek shelter, the opportunistic build windmills. The more effective and strategic you are, the better long term support for your cause. There is nothing wrong with learning from crisis. Having to think differently about how to fundraise through events, may be a strategic opportunity to drive change towards being a more resilient, flexible and digitally efficient organization.
You can for example think about transforming your physical event into a digital:
- From Marathon to Sharathon: How about challenging your participants to run on their own, all at the same time (at the time of the event, the timeslot is already booked in their calendar)? Make a partnership with an app provider (or several) and share live data on your website (with your connected P2P fundraising application eager and ready) to keep the emulation of the physical event going.
- Had an artist signed up for the physical event? Why not go ahead, and broadcast it instead?
At the end of all this, we believe that the organizations focusing strategically on effective one-to-one digital relations with corporate as well as individual fundraisers and donors, will come out the least adversely affected. If your organization has so far been a late adaptor in the digital category, you could use the situation to drive your internal stakeholders to accept small but strategically significant changes in your platform and execution.
5. We are here to help, inspire and share
We are in this together. We are aware of a lot of important work going on in the nonprofit community to counter the adverse effects of the Coronavirus. But more can be done, more can be learned and more can be shared.