On June 4 The Chronicle of Philanthropy published Michael Theis’ article, “Trust in Nonprofits Rises as Confidence in Government Covid Response Slides.”
Two of the survey results shared are of interest to those working with auction gala fundraisers.
1. Donors are beginning to grow weary of appeal requests.
In two different recent discussions with nonprofit fundraisers Gail Perry and Pamela Grow, I advocated that summer – June, July, or August – is a great time for virtual auction events.
I believe the glut of (now virtual) events from September through December, social unrest, a questionable economy, the election, and COVID-19 “Round 2” are all possible threats working against fall fundraising galas. These elements would likely hit smaller charities the hardest.
Pre-COVID-19, summer wasn’t considered an ideal time for a gala. With exception of those nonprofits working in vacation communities, the fundraising event season was quiet. Donors were gone; they jetted off on planned vacations and weddings.
But this year, that’s flipped.
I suspect any donors who are getting away are more likely to enjoy a low-key weekend at the lake or nearby town versus taking a long trip to Italy.
Because of this, I recommend groups consider a Sunday – Thursday night virtual gala, thereby freeing up the summer weekend for donors to enjoy.
2. Donors are changing their giving preferences, providing less to education and arts groups and giving more to health and social-service charities.
As I mentioned in my free “Conversation” series educating on virtual galas, health and social service nonprofits are having their day in the fundraising sun.
As our daily life shifted to adapt to coronavirus, their work was spotlighted. Images of front-line hospital workers wrapped in protective gear and long lines at drive-up food pantries filled the news feed.
What if you’re not one of those highlighted organizations?
My advice is to continue to communicate with donors. Share your work and how it’s important. Tell your coronavirus story — how it’s affected your nonprofit and why your work still matters. Then show donors how nimble you are as you adapt to deliver in this new environment.
Nonprofits that stop fundraising in a time of crisis risk being forgotten — or at the least, being seen as unimportant.
Instead, be big, be bold, and lead the way.
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