Pocketbooks are tight. Storefronts are deserted. And volunteers are sequestered in their homes, showing their faces only for an occasional Zoom meeting. That’s the bad news.

The good news: you can still fundraise successfully for your non-profit. Aware3 CEO Tony Caudill helps 3,000+ churches, schools, and non-profits better engage with donors to build a sustainable cash flow. He provided the following tips to non-profits worried about fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t stop trying

This sounds like a no-brainer, yet a pandemic complicates things. Many organizations have stopped reaching out to donors, because they assume donors aren’t in a position to give. That mindset is not in your organization’s best interest.

“There’s a belief that giving is down during COVID-19. And some organizations have just rolled over and stopped asking for donations because of it,” said Tony.

Continue reaching out. Regardless of economic hardship, people still believe in your mission. It’s now a matter of putting the right message in the right place to motivate donors.

Set up online giving

That “right place” (and in many cases, the only place) to share your message is now online. COVID-19 catapulted the world’s fundraising efforts from checks and cash to the internet. Now, organizations without digital fundraising abilities are left behind.

Tony’s 3,000+ partners reported a 47% increase in online giving from January to June 2020 compared with the same period last year.

Enabling online giving will not only sustain, but possibly boost your organization’s financial wellbeing. Encourage donors to set up recurring gifts online. No more forgotten checkbooks or wallets. Online giving is automatic — reducing human error and increasing your organization’s income.

Be specific about your needs

There’s no perfect formula for what to say, but Tony’s advice is to honestly lay out your needs.

“Everyone recognizes charitable organizations still need funds to operate. We encourage our partners to be transparent about those needs,” said Tony.

The more specific, the better. Donors aren’t inspired by vanilla giving experiences and bland emails saying “please give” for the fifth time.

Try listing out:

  • The amount of funding needed
  • What you’ll use it for
  • Why it’s important to your organization

Paint donors a picture of their tangible impact and they’ll feel more compelled to help. For an example, see how this school used a specific ask to help their local community during the pandemic.

Drive awareness to your giving campaign

Once your online giving is set up, let the whole world know — or at least your organization’s community. Drive awareness to your campaign through social media, newsletters, and texting. Make it quick and easy for someone to find you and give.

Give donors a sense of purpose

Finally, remember your roots. This pandemic may have shaken the world, but your organization stands firm, fighting for its mission. People are now isolated, searching for connection and purpose. Your organization can help them find that. Include themes of hope and joining a cause bigger than yourself throughout your organization’s messaging. People will rise to the occasion; all you have to do is reach out and inspire them to act.

To sum it up, your organization is already doing the right thing — fighting for your cause. Ensure your organization can continue doing so by:

  • Creating an online giving campaign.
  • Sending a message of purpose and hope.
  • Asking specifically for what you need.
  • Driving awareness to your campaign.

You can still successfully fundraise during a pandemic. In fact, this strange world that we now live in needs you to.

Follow Tony Caudill on LinkedIn or see how Aware3’s app connects churches with their members.


Tony Caudill

Nonprofit Strategy Director