Crafting your spring appeal during Covid-19

By Capacity Partners Consultant Kristen Engebretsen and Capacity Partners Associate Stephanie Hanson

 

In January, you had just come back from the holidays, and planning for your spring appeal was well underway. Now, after a month of fundraising during a pandemic, you’re likely asking the question, “Should we still do a spring appeal, and if so, how?”

Capacity Partners recommends you should still raise funds through your annual spring appeal, especially if you have not yet reached your goal. However, your messaging may need to change, and how it changes depends on your organization’s mission, sector, and whom you serve.

Here are a few strategies and tactics to help you build a successful campaign:

Keep your message positive and place impact front and center. It is important to acknowledge the strange and difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but you should be sure your overall message is positive. Even if your organization is in a crisis, link your appeal to your organization’s long-term strategy, using language like “with your support and partnership, together we can [fill in the immediate impact made].”  This is not the time to be fundraising for a special “nice to have” project. Instead, positively demonstrate both the need and impact while making a clear and compelling ask.

Join #GivingTuesday, the global campaign for charitable giving, for a special spring edition.  #GivingTuesdayNow is designating Tuesday, May 5, 2020 as a day of unity in support of the unprecedented need created by covid-19. Download a campaign toolkit, including ideas, graphics, and social media hashtags on the Giving Tuesday website.
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Play off the idea of spring rejuvenation with your appeal—spring is a time for growth, and flowers are still blooming, even in a global health crisis.

Think about whom you are trying to reach. Is a mail appeal and/or a digital campaign going to best reach your audience? While some of your donors are struggling, others are grateful to be employed and are looking for ways to give back right now. Look at your donor list and segment it according to which groups would be most receptive to an appeal at this moment. Consider using one of the many online giving platform options to get your message out digitally, and combine that with regular social media postings. Engage your organization’s board and closest friends to help push the message out.  Who knows – you might gain some new donors in the process.

Some funders are offering matching funds right now as a way to support their grantees. Contact your top ten funders and ask if they’d be willing to conduct a match with you right now. Or, look for local matching opportunities, like this impressive list from the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Be sure to include CARES Act language and the new charitable tax deduction in your spring appeal, noting that all donors who give during this time will receive a tax break, whether or not they take the standard deduction. Specific language can be found here.

Capacity Partners is prepared to help you in any way we can. Our job, quite simply, is to help you do yours in this extraordinary environment.


Managing Transitions

The only constant in life is change, and the same proves true at nonprofit organizations. As nonprofit leaders, we’re either preparing to launch the next program, initiating a fundraising campaign, or working with our boards to map out a strategic plan for the next five years.  And those are just the changes we plan for.

There is an implicit responsibility embedded in every nonprofit manager’s job description: change leader.  But what does it mean to be a change leader?  How do we effectively lead transitions? How do we include all of our stakeholders in the process?

While successful change management requires utilizing a host of best practices, one important tactic dictates that you enlist a core group of staff, board, and other stakeholders to drive the change you’re seeking to make.  In order to do this, you need a communications plan that details your vision, give people the chance to discuss concerns, then apply the change throughout your operations. Successful change management includes a plan that first identifies your organization’s stakeholders, and then outline strategic communication plans for each individual stakeholder group. Think about how you would want to be communicated with if someone else was leading your organization.

Laying the groundwork for a successful change takes time.  As Seth Godin once said, “it takes about six years of hard work to become an overnight success.”  However, it’s also important to celebrate small wins and acknowledge the hard work of everyone as they strive to make change.

Capacity Partners is ready to support you your nonprofit during your transition from facilitating meetings to developing comprehensive strategic plans.