“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

The familiar opening of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities sounds strikingly like the challenges and choices fundraisers faced during COVID. “Is this the right time to begin a campaign, expand an existing campaign or try new strategies? Should we wait for things to get better or move forward with the plans we have in place? When is the right time to raise money?”

When facing the worst of times, here are tips to make it better… even the best:

Keep moving forward.

While tasks and timing are important, hitting pause is never an option. More activity doesn’t guarantee more money raised, but with a comprehensive development plan in place, nonprofits should always be pro-actively fundraising. Whether it’s demonstrating appreciation for donors who have given to a previous campaign, scheduling solicitations for a current campaign or considering goals for a future campaign, nonprofits should always be in “campaign” mode. Along with raising money, this active approach spurs strategic thinking and structures the development team’s activities.

Keep cultivating donor relationships.

Nonprofits that kept moving forward were better able to leverage those relationships, yielding the best-of-times kind of responses from their donors, during the most difficult days. Learn from this, and use the lesson to inspire even better communication and cultivation strategies in the months ahead. And don’t forget to properly thank donors who stepped up when they were needed most.

Keep actively communicating.

We may not be experiencing the same levels of panic and apprehension, but no one knows what the future holds. It may have been the worst of times financially for one donor and the best for another. One thing is certain: “Change is here to stay.” So, keep communicating the organization’s story, including its mission, accomplishments and vision; and give people many opportunities to be part of the great work taking place.

No matter the times – the best or the worst – there will always be people who want to make a positive difference in the world. Let’s make that happen this year!

R. Scott Justvig
Executive Vice President

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