While a crisis may not seem like the best time to adapt your nonprofit fundraising strategy to focus on donor stewardship, a difficult time presents a unique opportunity for nonprofits. In fact, it’s not only a good time to work on donor stewardship, but it’s actually crucial that you focus on supporter relationships during tough times.

This guide will help you bolster your connection with your donors in three steps for improving donor stewardship during any crisis.

1. Improve donor communication

More than ever, donors need to know that your relationship is genuine. Now is the time to level up your communications to ensure that they’re not only hearing from you when you’re asking for gifts. This doesn’t mean you need to be in constant contact or that you can’t ask for gifts.  It means that you need to re-focus your message to better reflect current times and your mission and adjust your methods of connecting with donors. You can do this by:

  • Calling donors to check-in, particularly long-time supporters
  • Creating an online space for supporters to interact, like a Facebook group
  • Providing resources for your supporters on your website

While you want to focus on communicating regularly, you also need to ensure that your messaging is appropriate and mission-centric to maintain your donors’ connection to your cause. Particularly during unusual and difficult times, a fundraising consultant can be an excellent resource to help you better focus your messaging on your mission.

2. Offer flexible engagement opportunities

While some of your donor base may feel very comfortable gathering in person again, there may be some members of your community who are still not comfortable or are at an increased risk. To accommodate these individuals and ensure that everyone can participate in your fundraising campaigns and other events, offer a variety of ways to engage.

This might look like:

  • Accepting monetary or in-kind gifts
  • Investing in resources to offer contactless payment options
  • Collecting donations with a giving kiosk
  • Making your events hybrid to accommodate remote participants
  • Hosting virtual events
  • Conducting one-on-one donor meetings over Zoom

Whether you’re running a large capital campaign event or hosting an expert talk or workshop for members, ensuring that all of your donors can participate in some shape or form is crucial. This way, you can show your donors you care about their health and safety, while still being dedicated to offering exciting opportunities to engage with your organization.

3. Double down on matching gifts

At a time when many of your donors may be facing financial burdens and tighter budgets, it can seem insensitive to ask for more money, especially if they’ve already given. But, of course, your organization still relies on the generosity of donors to fund your organization and the work you do. Corporate matching gifts can present a solution to this issue that will help your organization reach its fundraising goals without burdening your already generous donors.

Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy that gives employees the opportunity to increase their impact at a nonprofit of their choice. If an employer offers a matching gift program, an employee can submit documentation after giving to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and once approved, the employer will offer a matched gift to the nonprofit.

84% of donors say they’re actually more likely to give if they know a match will be available.

However, not all donors are aware of their eligibility for these programs or how to get their gift matched. Effectively marketing matching gifts to your donors is an excellent way to increase charitable giving to your organization.

Donor stewardship and communication are a standard part of your nonprofit’s everyday operations and a crisis shouldn’t change this. However, a crisis will change how you engage in donor stewardship and what strategic plans and efforts will work best to bring you and your donors together to not only fundraise but form genuine and lasting relationships that will continue to serve your organization in the future. Use these three tips to help your team adapt to the changing expectations and needs of your donors during tough times.

About the Author
Bob Happy brings nearly 35 years of experience providing expert leadership and direction to clients across the not-for-profit sector to his current role as President of Averill Solutions. Before forming Averill Solutions, Bob served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the nation’s largest fundraising firm. He has mentored hundreds of professional fundraising practitioners and many have joined him at Averill Fundraising Solutions.