Aug 13 2020

Nonprofits: How to Handle COVID Part 1 – Adapting

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, racial injustices, and a recession, it’s sometimes hard to remember the problems we faced pre-2020. For non-profits, though, pressing issues ranging from food insecurity and homelessness to Alzheimer’s research, deforestation, and suicide prevention remain top of mind. Even though such issues aren’t featured in today’s headlines, they’re still vitally important, and in dire need of support.


Much like other industries during this excruciating time, the nonprofit sector has taken a hard hit. Leveraging proper development tools in the midst of a pandemic can be terribly stressful, and in this adapting landscape, nonprofit organizations have been dealt an especially difficult hand. In particular, the reduced willingness of some previously reliable supporters to donate, coupled with the inability to hold fundraisers, have led to a steep decline in donations.


So, how are nonprofits supposed to stay afloat? Here at [ 2 one 5 ], we are lucky enough to work with some incredible nonprofit leaders. One of those is Beth Stefanacci, Executive Director at Go4theGoal, a nonprofit organization helping kids with cancer reach their goals. Go4theGoal has deep roots in its homegrown territory of South Jersey, and has grown its reach across the nation since its founding in 2006; now, though, its formerly frenetic workflow has slowed.


Go4theGoal Foundation


“Nonprofits are struggling, but people don’t take time to pause and think about them because of what’s going on, rightfully so. But, kids and people still need help,” said Stefanacci. “My team has learned the art of patience during this time.”


According to Stefanacci, the most important tactic her and her team at Go4theGoal execute starts with knowing their audience, and putting their carefully crafted donor relationships to good use, “My team knows our donors and who they are. In a time like this, our team has to pivot how they talk to these donors.” She emphasized the importance of a customized approach, adding that, “Donors will respect the fact that we are not hounding them but instead offering ways to get through this and handle it together.” It’s also important to adjust expectations for donations when they do come in. Stefanacci said her team makes sure to communicate to donors that “even a little is a lot.”


Many nonprofits have been forced to change their marketing and development tactics completely, emphasizing creativity and honesty. Changing fundraising efforts to push a more innovative, tech-savvy approach with virtual events and online giving opportunities is an avenue most organizations have been deploying. Being persistent with authenticity, and reiterating how an organization’s mission helps those in need while not using COVID to bring in dollars, is crucial, says Stefanacci.


And yet, there’s always hope. A recent study by Dunham + Company found that 53% of donors said they plan to continue on giving, but more carefully than before the pandemic. Another report from Inside Philanthropy stated that an organization’s odds of donorship can increase measurably if nonprofits provide “transparency, data-driven strategic planning, and a calm, measured tone” when pushing forward with their new efforts amid COVID.


Go4theGoal Donations


Stefanacci and her team at Go4theGoal have taken a similar approach when speaking to their donors. The team assures donors that it’s understandable they may not be able to hit last year’s numbers. Relieving these pressures helps to strengthen the overall bond with donors and develop a team-like mentality which at the end of the day, is how Go4theGoal treats its donors. They operate like a team, and that camaraderie is working in their favor.


An important point for nonprofits to remember is that during this time, pivoting branding efforts to a more transparent and upfront strategy can make or break a donor’s loyalty. Revamping social media posts and website homepages are cost-effective and direct ways to demonstrate that transparency, showing donors where your organization stands in the midst of uncertain times. In our next blog, we’ll cover additional next steps to support these efforts.


Tackling new tactics such as these may not be in every organization’s wheelhouse and in those instances nonprofits should look to branding agencies that offer unique promotions for 501(c)3 organizations and get a head start on strategic planning in a time such as this. Many brands and agencies are showing a renewed interest in service, so now may be the perfect time to find a like-minded partner to support your outbound efforts.


While these times lack certainty, it’s important for nonprofit leaders to remember that if your mission is true to what your organization stands for, that story will be heard and those efforts will continue to change the world.



Learn how you can get involved with Go4theGoal.


For more information on ways to pivot your strategies as a nonprofit organization, visit our contact page. We’d love to start a conversation.

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