CEO Insights: Tread Softly When Crying COVID-19

April 3, 2020
4 min
A grid of shapes, a portrait photo of Justin Wheeler, and the words "CEO Chat".
Justin is Funraise's CEO, a co-founder, and a bad-ass, experienced nonprofit fundraiser. Like a true fundraiser-turned-founder, he breaks down the concepts behind Funraise's mission everywhere he can make nonprofits' voices heard.

Is my nonprofit tone-deaf?

This has been top of mind for many nonprofit fundraisers and executives I've spoken with this month. "You probably are," has been my response to most. Again, fundraising should not stop. But the way you fundraised pre-pandemic should.

For example, look at how restaurants have adapted to stay in business. Instead of pausing revenue or closing down, they found a new way to serve their customers. They went online. Imagine though if they ignored the reality of the pandemic and continued with business as usual. They would have lost customers.

If you are fundraising and it doesn't relate to COVID-19, it does not mean you are tone-deaf.

  • You should be fundraising.
  • You should be acquiring new donors.
  • You should be talking with your existing donors often.

But if you are selling tickets to your summer or fall gala or asking companies to sponsor your upcoming endurance event in a few months, then I'd argue you are flirting with being tone-deaf.

No one knows when life will go back to normal, so embrace today as the new normal and make the digital shift happen quicker.

The worst-case scenario is that you end up with a new revenue stream as a result.

Can't listen to the video? Scroll down to read the transcript.

Video Transcript

Something I've told a lot of nonprofit executives lately is... not every organization, you know, is going to be able to tie like Covid-19 into it. So I don't think you should try to if you can't. Because that just becomes...  it just comes off as like disingenuous. I love what charity: water did, and you probably saw that as well. But where they did this survey where they weren't sure how their community was impacted, you know, by the crazy amount of people that have been  unemployed since this has all gone down. And so instead of asking people for money on World Water Day, they ask people to take a survey, and they lined up a high net worth donor to match, I think it was $40 for every survey respondent. And that was a really clever way to keep your community engaged, to be thoughtful and since you didn't know how they were impacted, but also to still raise money for the important work that you're doing. So I think there's there's so many different variables to consider and hopefully organizations at this point have, you know, had that triage room type of brainstorms and said what does this mean for us this year? How do we fundraise? What is our messaging look like? Because it's only you're going to be successful for the next what is it, 7 1/2-8 months.
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