In the wake of a global pandemic and its economic impact, many nonprofits are having to adjust their operations and marketing plans to continue serving their communities’ needs. While there were several trends already shaping the nonprofit fundraising model of the future, COVID-19 swept in and dealt a devastating blow to marketers’ 2020 plans.

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Our new ebook, Responding to COVID-19: The Nonprofit Dilemma, dives into the challenges nonprofits are now facing and the three strategies for surviving what’s looking to be a long and arduous return to normalcy.

Here’s a sneak peek into what’s inside.

The COVID-19 effect

Immediately following the stay-at-home orders last spring, many people felt the need to give what they could to organizations suited toward helping those who’d been laid off or furloughed, and those who needed food or shelter.

According to a recent Fidelity Charitable report, donations rose in every geographic region by 28% or more in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2019. Philanthropists accelerated their already planned gifts. The charitably inclined gave to organizations relevant to their interests who might otherwise not receive donations (e.g. performing arts companies and museums). And occasional donors stepped up to support the immediate needs of people during the pandemic.

The trends in these gifts point toward a growing shift in nonprofit fundraising: the individual versus the cause. And the pandemic merely accelerated this shift as individuals began to receive large amounts of funds on sites like GoFundMe for various reasons, including medical costs, funeral and burial costs, and the inability to pay rent.

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Simultaneously, nonprofits with missions relevant to the crisis also received large donation amounts in the hopes of accelerating the research for vaccinations and supporting as many people as possible impacted by the pandemic and economy.

But what about the organizations that don’t directly serve communities in crisis? Nonprofits focused on causes irrelevant to right now and small organizations hit hardest by the economic effect of the pandemic are facing additional tough challenges right now.

The nonprofit choice

When determining the best course of action during any crisis, nonprofits must evaluate which category they fall into—and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.

The three crisis strategies are hibernation, response, and a hybrid of the two. Each has its challenges for organizations looking to survive in the long run, so consider whether your organization can withstand the level of risks involved in each option.

Hibernator nonprofits can choose to pause operations, communications, and outreach as they quietly maintain minimum services to wait out the pandemic. Responder nonprofits have had to immediately enact safety protocols to maintain operations, including providing masks and cleaning supplies, and sometimes paying overtime. Meanwhile, hybrid nonprofits may pause some operations and communications while continuing other operational services that allow them to continue supporting their communities.

To address any of these challenges, we’ve provided some tips for nonprofits organizations to consider as they choose their crisis strategy and strive to thrive for the long term. Access these by downloading our free ebook, Responding to COVID-19: The Nonprofit Dilemma.

We’re here to help

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News and circumstances are changing daily. That’s why it’s crucial to remain as flexible and agile as you can to tailor your strategies and messages to what your donors need from you at any given moment.

Our team is available to dive into any of these areas to ensure you are thoughtfully executing your marketing efforts with your donors and communities in mind. Please reach out with any questions, thoughts, or concerns you feel like you need to address in the coming weeks and months ahead.

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