When you consider all the things you have no control over right now, it can be overwhelming. However, there is one thing you can control. People need authentic, caring connections with others now, maybe more than ever. And you, as a non-profit leader, can role model how to display that warmth and concern over the next couple of weeks.

Many of our most committed, long-term donors and volunteers are in the category of adults being asked to self-quarantine or deliberately social distance. Have you called to check on them? Do you know their situation and the challenges they may personally be facing?

Consider developing a list of your organization’s donors. Sort them both by their closeness to you (consistent, generous giving) and by their age. Divide that list among key staff (even they are already assigned to someone as a lead connector). Make a plan to make personal phone calls to all donors, starting with your top and eldest donors.

Everyone has a simple agenda for their calls:

  1. How are you?
  2. Can we do anything to help?
  3. How are we?
  4. IF THEY ASK how they can help, let them.

You will not only be making a good connection point with a donor; this could also help other staff or volunteers outside of the development team better understand the way this relationship activity works! Here's a little more on each step of the agenda.


How Are You? Can We Do Anything to Help?

Really ask how they are. Truly seek to understand their situation and listen to their concerns. If you uncover some immediate need, look for an appropriate manner and/or resource to help solve their issue if that is possible. Prep your calling staff with some phone numbers or websites of organizations that are helping seniors specifically.


How Are We?

Prepare in advance some immediate talking points about what your organization is doing NOW in response to the situation. This is beyond handwashing and disinfecting…but may be things like:

  • Mobilizing our staff into a new area of service
  • Collecting food and supplies for international college students who can’t go home
  • Online access to our museum and/or arts program for free rather than members only
  • Meal pick up for public school students
  • Child care for hospital staff and first responders

Your organizational response may still be underdevelopment. That’s OK. Share what you can and keep your phone callers updated on new impacts as the days go by.


How Can They Help?

If, and only if, they are ready and ask how they can help, be ready to respond. Gifts now are important, and some will want to send them. For others, the uncertainty is too close to home and they won’t be ready. That is FINE.


The important part of this connection point is that you’ve both shared the reality of your situation. They have supported you before and will want to do so again. Love on them, say thank you for all they've done, support them and stay open for a plan to return for support when the time is RIGHT FOR THEM TOO.

We believe in you and the work you are evolving to do today in your community. Together, we will get through this challenge and continue in service to our world.


Do you need to talk to someone about the challenges your organization is facing? Contact us and request a free consultation

We are continuing to update our resource page on Fundraising in Uncertain Times. Please check back frequently for tips and samples to help your organization quickly respond to our changing circumstances. 


Posted by Jan Brogdon
Jan Brogdon

Written by Jan Brogdon

Jan Brogdon, CFRE, is an experienced member of the DBD Team focused on working with a diverse group of nonprofit leaders who are looking to connect their work in communities with donors who are seeking to make a difference. With more than 30 years of professional experience, Jan has a strong track record in supporting annual giving strategies including the use of direct response, peer-to-peer fundraising, radical stewardship, and year-round major gift programs in support of signature programs.

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