An external crisis such as COVID-19 causes significant shifts for a nonprofit’s operational and strategic funding needs and plans.
Today, many organisations require immediate revenue to overcome the short term challenges presented by the impact of the pandemic. Simultaneously, they are concerned about how these conversations will affect long term campaign commitments.
With a focused request strategy, it is possible to secure short term support without jeopardising future discussions.
In this post, we lay out the key considerations to keep in mind when planning for such a request:
1. Prioritise your prospects. Review the potential in your pipeline as well as your recent major gift donors to identify which prospects you will approach. Be guided by affinity, ability, and access.
- Ask: Who do we consider our insiders? Who is briefed on our long-term needs and understands our current situation? Who would be receptive to an additional or increased request? Whose involvement might inspire others to commit to our immediate needs?
2. Develop your case. Articulate the necessity of short-term support and link this to the wider campaign and organisational mission. A strong and clear alignment of immediate and long-term requirements will strengthen your message, allowing you to stay true to the overall organisational ambition and show how a contribution now fits in to the bigger picture.
- Your case should address core questions, including: How much funding is needed to support your immediate operations? How will this advance your long term, strategic plans?
3. Embrace flexible strategies and gift structures. A change in your cultivation and gift request strategy should be rooted in flexibility. It is likely that you may be asking prospects and donors to accelerate or increase their existing gift and therefore you need to offer various giving options and payment schedules to fulfil this combined or increased donation.
4. Update and steward regularly. Demonstrating the impact of your donors’ generosity will help to progress your future campaign request. Also, a frequent update on your needs leaves the door open for additional giving in the future.
As you activate these conversations, keep the following questions in mind:
- Which donors will step up again if COVID-19 continues to impede our ability to raise annual revenue?
- Will our present operational need impact our campaign case, strategy, projections, and timeline?
- What have we learned about our donors’ interests and gift structure preferences through this process?