March 24, 2020
by: Sheela Nimishakavi
I’ve been hearing a lot of people say that it isn’t appropriate to fundraise right now or charge for programs and a lot of organizations are shying away from asking their donors for funding.
The reason for this comes from a really good place. From everyone I’ve spoken with, the main reason seems to be that their nonprofits don’t provide basic needs and so their cause is not as relevant at the moment. The thinking is that maybe it’s inappropriate to ask for donations for, say, an art program, when there are people who need meals delivered to them at the moment.
While I completely understand that you might think your cause is not as relevant as it was pre-coronavirus crisis, I’d like to offer another point of view. Unless the need for your organization has disappeared, I believe you can and should fundraise. You can and should charge for your programs- if that’s what you would have done before coronavirus changed all of our plans.
The nonprofit field is made up of incredibly compassionate, empathetic people who want to look out for their community. But, by assuming nobody wants to pay or nobody wants to donate to your nonprofit you’re taking that choice away from your community and it’s actually disempowering.
You’re not taking advantage of people when you ask for payment for your programs or when you ask for donations to sustain your work. Taking your programs offers me a break. Donating to your nonprofit offers me a way to contribute to my community during a time of isolation. Talking with you about what your nonprofit is doing right now to help others, offers me connection at a time when connection is sorely needed.
Here’s a thought exercise for you- what if things never go back to the way they were, does that mean you would never fundraise again? Would you pack up shop and shut down your organization? If you knew this was it, this is how it’s going to be from now on, how would you behave?
My guess is you would get creative. You would find a way to serve. You would find a way to connect with your donors and with your community.
Finally, think about what actions you can take. I know a lot of us have consumed so much information over the past couple of weeks. There’s been a million webinars, trainings, meetings. But now it’s time to take action.
I know it’s not easy listening to a webinar or podcast and distilling that information down into what is feasible for your particular nonprofit and your particular situation. Webinars and podcasts are meant for a broad audience. If you need one on one assistance, please reach out to me.
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