I have been on the phone for much of the last two days with organizations that are feeling the effects of COVID-19. In some cases, the services they provide are being stretched to the limit while in other cases, fundraising events are not being held and offices are quarantined. It is time for nonprofits and ministries to take action to generate the funds they need as a result of the pandemic.
Now is the time to take action –
Let those on your email list and on your social media know what you need. If there is one thing that I am seeing in the midst of this pandemic, it is that people are looking for ways to help others. They are realizing that others are in less fortunate positions through no fault of their own and are stepping forward to help. What they may not be realizing is that nonprofits and ministries are on the front lines as well…quietly working behind the scenes doing what they always do, caring for those in hard spots, “the least of these.”
So, I want to encourage you to let your people know what you need. Below is a quick formula that you can use to send out an email to your list, and modified slightly, it can also be shared on your social media platforms.
Keep your email appeal simple and easy to understand. Use short sentences and brief paragraphs. (Did you know that long sentences trick our brains into thinking they are more difficult to read?) Get their attention quickly—with all the “noise” and clutter in their email boxes. Personally, I think I have received a COVID-19 policy from every store, restaurant or hotel I have ever been to.
Begin with a statement indicating the message is urgent. Skip the small talk and the feel good stuff—you have an urgent message.
Next, let your donors know how the current crisis is hurting your organization and those you serve. Are you serving more people? Have you had to change the way you operate?
Make the ask for a special donation. (It is important to make the ask several times in the letter as most people will be skimmers.)
Provide a short story that demonstrates the need facing those your organization serves. Key word here is short! This story can only be 4 or 5 sentences, so write tight and really think about how best to convey your message. Stress that this is a need today!
Show donors how their donation or gift will meet the need. How much does it cost for one unit of service? Connect the gift to the story.
Emphasize that the needs you are working to solve and the needs people are coming to you with are not needs that you have budgeted for. (Really….who could have ever budgeted for a pandemic?) Let donors know that their donations will immediately be put to use.
End the letter by reiterating the need to send a gift now.
Depending on how long this crisis goes on, you may need to resend this email every couple of weeks or so. Check your links and make sure your online giving portals are working, it should be as easy as possible for donors to give.
Is your organization struggling as a result of COVID-19? Let me know how I can help, I will be happy to proof and edit your appeal or act as a sounding board for your ideas to move forward. Send me an email today!