Last week I was sat at my desk, looking at the budget for a charity that I work with and I felt completely hopeless. All the pre-planned fundraising activities, the drop in donations since the initial flurry, corporates on furlough…everything felt so out of control.
But then I remembered, I am fundraiser! We are a creative, hardy and incredibly dedicated bunch. So I got a blank piece of paper and wrote down 5 things I actually have control over and can do now.
1. STOP READING EVERYTHING
So this might seem contradictory, considering I am writing a blog, but the amount of information out there at the moment is over-whelming. Whilst lots of it is helpful, it can often make you question yourself and feel as though you aren’t doing enough or that you are out of your depth. How many of us have Googled ‘virtual event’ in the last 2 months?!
You know your charity, your supporters and your donors better than you realise. Have the confidence in knowing what will work for you and seek answers to your specific questions, rather than reading every blog that drops into your inbox. If you see a charity doing something similar to what you have planned, reach out to them. I have had far more helpful conversations with fundraisers explaining first-hand what worked for them, than I have from overloading my brain with google search results.
2. TALK TO YOUR SUPPORTERS AND KEEP MAKING THE ASK
I personally donate to four charities on a monthly basis and I am worried about how little I have heard from them. Only one has actually engaged with me as a supporter to update me on how they were responding to the crisis, and I subsequently made a donation. I did this because I care about the cause and I want them to be able to continue their work. Think of your donors in the same way.
Focus less on trying to recruit new supporters and really connect with those who are already invested in what you do. Tell them about what is happening at your charity, how it is affecting your beneficiaries and give them tangible ways that they can help. If possible, pick up the phone to talk to them and don’t forget to make the ask! Now is the time to be brave.
3. DON’T STOP CREATING CONTENT
Social distancing does not mean that you can’t continue to create engaging digital content. Speak to your front line staff, beneficiaries and volunteers. Ask them to record video content or write blogs about their day to day. Even better, record an interview with them on Zoom about how Coronavirus has affected them.
Your supporters want to hear from the whole charity, not just the fundraisers and demonstrating the impact their support has made is more important than ever!
Have a look at what content you already have. Could you re-edit videos? Make a film from existing photo’s or create an animation demonstrating your work. We are working with several charities at the moment, helping them to increase their digital content and we have yet to do any physical filming. The results for these fundraisers have been fantastic!
4. FUTURE PROOF YOURSELF AND YOUR CHARITY
The Coronavirus crisis has forced all of us fundraisers to very quickly realise where the skill gaps are in our charities. All of a sudden we are watching 10 webinars on how to host a virtual marathon and I am sure that there must be hundreds of expert quiz-masters by now!
What can you do now to future-proof you and your charity? Do an audit of skills and see where there are gaps. Look at some online courses or engage with corporates who could skill share. The Institute of Fundraising have some fantastic short courses on their website that are well worth looking into. You might even find a new niche or passion!
5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND MOTIVATE
There is a saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Fundraisers are under an incredible amount of pressure right now and there is a temptation to work extra long hours to achieve impossible targets. Stop. You will burn out! Make sure you have regular breaks, turn off work emails and get some fresh air. There are some fantastic resources like Noom and Headspace that will recommend great self-care exercises.
When you are in the thick of it, its hard to remember the reason we work in this sector – to help others. I find it to be a great motivator to speak to a front-line staff member or volunteers. Ask them about your beneficiaries, how your charity has helped and what a difference you have made. I promise it will give you a boost and help to re-focus what you are doing. But mostly, please, just be kind to yourself!
For a free, informal chat about your next video project or campaign and how we can help to maximise results, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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