8 Tips For Compassionate Fundraising During COVID-19

As COVID-19 impacts us all in a spectrum of ways, it is important for nonprofit leaders to adapt their fundraising strategy to the times—and their unique donors. Here are eight ideas for your nonprofit to fundraise respectfully and authentically during a global pandemic.


As we all work to abide by social distancing guidelines, rolling with the tide of virtual fundraising and relationship-building has become imperative for nonprofits seeking to survive the COVID-19 crisis. That’s why we compiled the following eight tips for your nonprofit to engage donors with compassion and creativity throughout the pandemic:

1. Begin with empathy.

COVID-19 has impacted every single person on the planet. Whether your donors are working virtually, responding in their own communities, struggling to find work, caring for others, or being cared for, let them know you see them. The more authentically you can connect, the more respectfully you can make a virtual fundraising ask.

2. Rewrite in real-time.

Because so much has changed, so must your fundraising strategy. To carry on like “normal” would come off as out of touch. This crisis is the moment to show how you’re listening to your community and that you can learn how to get through it together.

3. Detail what has changed.

Share the on-the-ground reality. People are stuck in their homes, so paint a picture of what’s going on in your organization’s world. Here are some helpful questions that can get you started:

  • Has your staff switched to remote work? African Angels, a South African based education nonprofit, shares how one teacher and his wife are fairing during the lockdown in this series of lockdown update posts.
  • How have you had to pivot to keep reaching towards your mission? Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to protect wildlife in Kenya. When travel came to a halt, so did their income from wildlife tourism. This nonprofit launched an emergency fundraiser and created a competition called the Art of Survival where children are invited to draw, paint, and write about extinction for a chance to visit the animals on the safari when travel is back on!
  • How has your organization been uniquely impacted? GlobalGiving has heard from hundreds of nonprofits around the world requesting hardship grants. From voluntary pay cuts, to new technology requests, to becoming your community’s lead source of nutrition and accurate health information, we see the tentacles of this crisis impacting the nonprofit space in unimaginable ways, but we also see you responding.

    4. Share what you need with humility.

    For example, what many nonprofits need right now are emergency overhead costs. Feel free to be transparent about this with your donors. You may start by sharing how much you need to raise by the end of the month to keep going. Additionally, you may consider joining many of the nonprofits experiencing financial hardship that have launched emergency funds and sent out emergency appeals.

    5. Build your monthly donor network.

    If your organization is looking for longer-term financial stability, then right now is a good time to grow your base of monthly donors. Set a goal, share it, and mark your progress! Because we understand the importance of monthly giving, GlobalGiving makes a point of matching all new monthly donations to GlobalGiving partners. [Learn more about joining GlobalGiving.]

    6. Engage more individuals virtually.

    We’re seeing a TON of creativity in virtual fundraising and relationship-building out there now that the world is online more. Host a virtual 5K, invite supporters on a sofa safari, partner with a yoga teacher to host a virtual yoga class for donations! Make yourself and your work accessible. Donors are seeking meaningful virtual engagement!

    7. Close with care.

    When connecting with your stakeholders via email, you may need to deviate from your usual sign-offs as an acknowledgment of the complicated times we are currently experiencing. For example, you might want to use more familiar language than perhaps you have in the past. Here are some great examples we’ve seen:

  • “Stay healthy, friends,”
  • “The light is still shining… and it’s us. Together.”
  • “Thank you, and stay safe.”
  • “Wishing you and your loved ones vibrant health during these times.”

    8. Continue to connect with authenticity.

    All your communications should be advancing your relationship with your donors and giving nod to the current crisis. Question regularly scheduled communications like newsletters, and ask if that’s what’s needed right now. And don’t forget to always follow up with heartfelt thank yous.

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    Featured Photo: Safe Haven for Rohingya Refugee Children by JAAGO Foundation
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