Stoutzker Fundraising Partnership
GUIDANCE DURING COVID
Some key pointers:
• Be proactive. Communicate with your members, donors, trusts and corporate supporters about what is happening, the measures your organisation is taking and how you plan to survive and in the meantime, deliver any of your programmes remotely, including all educational, outreach and community.
• Be empathetic. Your supporters, particularly your corporate suppliers in the leisure and hospitality industry, will have been hit badly and be suffering. Try and find out how they are faring and what they are doing to mitigate the terrible impact of this on their businesses.
• Be creative when you are making approaches or appeals to supporter bases and with stewardship. Now more than ever, the rules do not apply; use all the tools and the people you have at your disposal to cement relationships and make asks. Brainstorm ways to reach and engage members, patrons and partners and stay relevant, even if your venue is closed, your programmes, exhibitions and performances are cancelled. When things begin opening again, even with limitations, those covid communication strategies will stand you in good stead.
• Consider carefully before you ask for further support from donors and funders, ensure you have an appreciation of what their circumstances are, the issues they are facing and how a request for support will come across; sensitivity is vital. They may well be inundated with appeals from many different charities and if they can donate, may be re-considering their own giving priorities. High value supporters across all sectors will need a personalised approach, with Trusts’ endowments falling in value, individuals hit in a variety of ways and many corporates losing money and in some cases, fighting for survival.
• Explain as clearly as possible the likely changes to (or withdrawal of) programmes your donors are supporting – and how you might plan to mitigate this. What has been promised to major donors and foundation supporters in proposals may simply not be achievable within the timeframes originally agreed. Major donors and trusts (or the people running them) will understand the challenges charities are facing. If programme delivery cannot happen or are greatly affected, inform donors of your organisation’s current thinking and solutions, asking for advice if necessary. Never has it been more important to be honest. See donors and funders as partners who want to work with you to succeed.
• Speak directly to people to explain the situation and the reason for the decision. This could well be an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with donors and prospects, bonding over a common problem.
• Expect what is beyond any fundraiser’s control; the shift in donor priorities. Depending what happens over the next few months, major donors and trusts may feel that their support is best given to causes other than yours. Even long-term major donors and trust supporters may make decisions to shift their support in the short-term to projects they wouldn’t normally consider in response to greater need in some sectors of society. That is their choice. Accept the situation and be gracious if your proposals or approaches are rejected but keep funders informed about the work you are doing anyway. They may well come back to you in the future.
• Anticipate the effect on income targets and in-kind support. Work with Finance, Programmes and others early to share views on where you feel income is at risk and discuss contingency plans. Early planning will take the sting out of reforecasting when it comes.
• Leave the door open to stay in touch with them and have a continuing dialogue. If there is any way you or your organisation can support them – even if it’s simply directing them to on-line cultural programming, blogs and information to lighten their day, that will keep your organisation top of mind and associated with offering positive support in difficult times.
• Most importantly, look after yourself and your teams. It’s likely to be a stressful few months so support and talk to each other through these difficult times. It will make us stronger in the long-term.