Looking back now, most of us would agree that fundraising prior to Covid-19 were simpler times. There is no doubt the pandemic has put extraordinary pressures on the charitable and NPO sector to be extra innovative in revenue sourcing. With normative workspaces and traditional fundraising events off the table for now, organizations are adapting new ways of interacting with the public and gaining monetary support. While some have opted for virtual events, others have revised branding to appeal to broader audiences. Here are some simple ways to help boost engagement with the community and focus on successful adaptions.
1. Digital Literacy
Going digital, whether willingly or not, is the survival mode of the times. A swift shift of digital transformation is happening as the NPO sector scrambles to revamp online identity, while remote work becomes the new normal. CanadaHelps notes that the acceleration to digital platforms across all sectors (government, industry, media, non-profits, research, etc.) is the emergence of the new digital economy1. In other words, digitalization is not going away. However, it can feel like sink or swim for smaller organizations that do not have the resources to invest in online infrastructure.
While you’ve got the time, why not give your social media platforms and website space a bit of an overhaul. Start simple, such as updating your contact lists and organization’s information. Do online research to learn easy and cost-effective ways to amplify your online presence. This might mean investing in relevant courses or reaching out to individuals in your community to learn what has worked for them.
2. Online Events (with pizzazz)
Many organizations and businesses have moved to online platforms to create a virtual meeting space. Rather than foregoing routine fundraising events, try hosting a virtual event by inviting contacts to attend and making the event accessible with apps like Zoom.
Make your event unique with themed parties, relevant speakers or performance acts. Tours of your workspace or interviews with staff are excellent ways to invite the public in. Most importantly, have fun! We could all use a bit of it during these tough times.
3. Back to Basics (creating a welcoming and empathetic work environment)
A strong charitable sector demonstrates community health. When disposable income is high, donations to charities remains stable. Obviously, the dip in financial markets due to the Coronavirus has compromised the charitable and non-profit sectors’ fiscal security.
NPOs and charities in Canada fill a huge block of the annual national GDP- billions of dollars. Servicing specific community gaps and needs, such as affordable housing, seniors, animal welfare, families, newcomers and youth, closing doors of these services is likely to have long-term detrimental impacts to society at large.
The NPO and charitable sector also employ a lot of people and a lot of these jobs are very emotionally taxing. Empathizing with staff and creating a flexible work environment is one of the surest ways to build rapport among staff, clients and community partners. These days people are looking for some flexibility since most of our customary structures and work lives have drastically changed. Supporting staff and creating a welcoming and empathetic work environment goes a long way, including boosting staff retention and maintaining professional reputations.
People love a good story! Luckily there are simple ways to get your story out into the public. Crafting your story might involve sharing the success of a featured client or staff member. It may include how your charity has recently expanded or the impact your organization has in the community.
Podcasting, vlogging and sharing through social media are excellent, creative tools to try out. If you are not comfortable creating your own podcast or video-story, look for any local businesses/ organizations that are already doing this and see what options are available for your NPO to be featured.
Additionally, press releases and engagement with local media outlets (such as cable tv channels, radio, newspapers or local magazines) are all excellent ways to get the word out about the work you do. Seek out stories from clients, staff and any archived footage. Putting together short and interesting success stories on social media is a proven method to spread awareness and gain community support.
5. Community-Building (we really do need each other)
Charities rely on their communities, and communities rely on their charities. Building bridges and connections with the local businesses and stakeholders in your community is a sure way to garner support and recognition. Local business owners (restaurants, breweries, shops, etc.) are excellent to partner with for events or catering needs. The advertisement is mutually beneficial and introduces the work your organization does to new audiences.
Sitting on local committees, events, panels, etc. are excellent ways to make connections and share the work you do with others. Becoming a well-known player in the community secures your organization’s place and support. This support goes both ways: showing up for your community is just as important.
Conclusion: Certainly, the times are very different than pre-Covid. But the charity work is just as, if not more, important than ever before. While there may be some huge learning curves, its more than possible to be successful and increase engagement with your supporters.