Facing the prospect of a deep economic recession due to COVID-19, the charitable sectors in both New Zealand and Australia are revising their plans and strategies to meet the new demands and unique challenges brought on by the pandemic.
Uncertainty and difficult decisions loom for charities on both sides of the Tasman, so it is understandable for fundraisers to question what the best direction is over the next 6-12 months.
Whatever the direction you decide to take, make sure you continue to do one thing: keep on fundraising!
One of the key takeaways from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 was that many charities who continued fundraising experienced an increase in giving whereas those who stopped fundraising took years to recover. Although overall fundraising income dropped in the USA for the first time in over 20 years, those charities who were bold in the face of economic doom and gloom and who remained connected with their donors did well.
It is too early to predict the impact COVID-19 might have on giving in 2020. JB Were has recently estimated that giving in Australia will decrease by around 7% this year compared to 2019. Many households have experienced job losses and reduced incomes or are being cautious with their discretionary income and are reluctant to give. Some grant makers are temporarily ceasing grant payments until their income recovers or have reduced grant money available to distribute.
Despite the prevailing circumstances we are continuing to see positive signs for giving. Over 70% of respondents to a FINZ member survey on the impact of COVID-19 indicated that individual donors gave the same or more in April 2020 when compared to April 2019. Some charities are achieving great fundraising results as they engage with donors in new and innovative ways. Many grant makers are not only maintaining pre-COVID distributions but making additional money available for charities experiencing an increase in demand during this time. Generous corporates have stepped up and given incredible sums, either as a stand-alone amount or as part of a gift-matching arrangement.
Here are some things that you can do to maximise your chances for fundraising success while you and your donors adjust to the ‘new normal’:
COVID-19 has changed the landscape. Charities have seen vital revenue streams dry up or significantly reduce. Some donors and funders are unable to give or have delayed their giving. You can do little to change the underlying factors driving these things, but what you can do is respond to these things in a positive way by placing an emphasis on engaging with donors, stewarding relationships, and looking for alternative ways of raising income. Respond to the values, circumstances, and aspirations of your donors by providing alternative opportunities for them to give. As an aside, will writing is up 30% in NZ, so, if you do not have an active bequest programme in place, now is the time to implement one.
What new opportunities can you develop to grab your donor’s attention that will provide a chance for them to make a difference in the lives of the people you serve? How can you show your constituency the difference you are making at this time and why their support is vital? Your charity will have unique opportunities available to connect with donors, share impact stories, and ask them to join your cause by participating and/or giving. Whatever you decide, place an emphasis on digital options. There is now an expectation that every meeting, event, or forum can be provided online. Having viable digital options also helps safeguard your charity against the unexpected, i.e. a global pandemic where everyone is asked to stay at home. AskRIGHT will be introducing a new fundraising platform and service next month, which might just be the opportunity your charity needs to maximise its fundraising at this time.