Fundraising During a Pandemic – Tips & Considerations for Donor Selections

As we enter the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have settled into a new normal and accepted the crisis as the surround sound of their missions. CCAH, in partnership with our clients, has adjusted and is continuing to readjust revenue projections and expectations. We are closely scrutinizing incoming returns from outbound solicitations.

For those organizations not directly impacted or serving beneficiaries impacted by the pandemic, there may be a temptation to scale back fundraising asks of their donors. Most organizations recognize this is not a prudent approach for the long-term viability of serving their missions, and CCAH strongly counsels against the exclusion of efforts, or cutting back too severely.

Is there a middle ground? Can organizations continue to solicit donations from their donors, while at the same time acknowledging not all donors on their file have the capacity or interest to give right now?

Yes! You can find donors who are willing and able to help you continue furthering your mission. We suggest targeting those house file donors that are the most in love with you. But how do you know who they are? 

We recommend considering some of these selection criteria to choose your donors:

Donors who have given for 5 or more years consecutively to your organization – including this year

Within this group, further identify the long-on-file (example, 10+ years), highly consistent donors (giving 75% or more of the time they have been on your file) with a lifetime revenue of perhaps $1,200+. Consider using as many channels as possible: SMS, phone, and/or email, connecting with them in much the same way you would with family and friends. Send an affirmative message showing you care such as: “these are uncertain times, we hope you’re doing okay” to solidify your donors’ relationship with your organization.

New donors acquired after March 17, 2020

Also, consider adjusting the new donor onboarding and the acknowledgement language new donors receive during this crisis. Adjust messaging to reflect the current environment (e.g. make sure it’s not just the normal welcome series, since that may not sound authentic to new donors at this time).

Lapsed Donors

Typically, reinstated lapsed donors tend to be more valuable than newly acquired donors.

As such, re-prioritize the more recently lapsed (like 13-36 months lapsed donors) and focus on those who were multi-year consecutive donors before they lapsed. Where possible, further refine by focusing on those who have been on your database for a substantial period of time (consider 7+ years), and who had given a cumulative amount of $100 or more. We recommend removing any new or reactivated donors who lapsed again.

Target these lapsed donors via SMS, ads, and email where possible. Multichannel contacts will increase the rate of conversions. 

Sustainers

Target committed donors who, after becoming a sustainer, have given additional one-time donations. Do you know who these sustainers are? If not, find them.

They are some of your best donors! Consider narrowing this selection further to the time period after March 17, 2020. 

Identify those sustainers who voluntarily upgraded their monthly committed amount, has anyone done this after March 17, 2020? Then identify monthly donors who converted to giving monthly donations after making one-time gifts for a significant period of time (like 7+ years) or maybe even those who have been on your database for 10 or more years in totality.

Other Donor Constituencies for Selection:

  • Donors who have given in the last 18 months and have returned a completed mail survey (digital survey completion as secondary)
  • Donors who volunteered their change of address (not auto-NCOA updated)
  • Multichannel donors who have given to two or more channels both this year and last year
  • Active (0-18 month) donors who are also coded as:
    • Active Advocates
    • Fundraising on the behalf of the organization
    • Current Volunteers
  • Donors donating using alternate payment methods:
    • Donor Advised Funds               
    • Family Foundations
    • Stocks

As we navigate this uncertain time, it’s important to make informed choices that best serve the overall missions of our clients. While we need to be mindful of the environment we are mailing within, we can use careful donor selection as an opportunity to keep the best donors involved and keep striving toward organizational goals.

Who are the donors you have identified as your strongest supporters, or do you need help finding them? We’re happy to help, reach out and work with us!

Remote Collaboration

At CCAH, many of our employees worked remotely even before the current COVID-19 crisis sent all of us to our home offices. Over the years we’ve learned some best practices for teleworking that can be applied now, but also whenever you have a teammate who isn’t physically in the office with you for any reason!

Turn On Your Video

When working from home, it can be tempting to dress as though it’s extra casual Friday every day of the week, and though this post won’t dive into the value of getting “dressed for work” even when you’re only going as far as your home office, it is a great idea to be presentable for the camera. Being face to face with your team, even when you aren’t physically in the same space, is nothing short of a necessity. Seeing each other allows for nuance, body language, and important conversational cues that just aren’t possible if you’re using voice-only communication methods.

Keep (Or Set Up) Standing Meetings

Without the opportunity to run into each other in an office, it’s important to keep in touch with coworkers! If you have a mentor or friend who you have lunch with, or a coworker on another team who you share ideas with, set up a weekly or biweekly chat so that you can keep talking! Similarly, if you have check-ins with your teammates when you’re in the office – individually or in groups – keep them on the calendar. Setting time aside to keep up with each other is a great way to keep remote work from feeling like a lonely endeavor.

Don’t Forsake Small Talk

When a meeting begins in person, there’s often a few minutes when folks are gathering that is taken up by that dreaded social phenomenon – small talk. But think about how many times a little non-work-related conversation in the middle of the day left you feeling renewed and a little more connected to whoever you talked with. That kind of social connection is vital when trying to maintain morale and collaboration from solo work environments! Use a few minutes as everyone joins a conference call to ask about everyone’s day or commiserate about the latest telework woe. Those conversations build relationships, and teams that know and trust each other do better work.

Use Group Chats

Many online platforms like Slack, Skype for Business, or Google, offer the ability to put your team in a good old fashioned chat room. This allows discussion to flow with buy-in from everyone, and helps to foster connection among teammates near and far.

Share Ideas and Brainstorm

Working from home can feel isolating, but one way to keep that at bay is to keep lines of communication open for new ideas and brainstorms. When teammates trust each other, it isn’t so scary to share new ideas – even when they might need a little work or be less than great. Any suggestion that doesn’t make it into the mainstream can still be a starting point for fruitful conversation!

Want to join the conversation? Work with us!

It’s Earth Day!

This Earth Day, CCAH is celebrating a little differently than usual. Rather than going outside to enjoy nature and hopefully give back, we are all staying in our homes. However, while there are many serious worries to be had about our current situation, one silver lining of social distancing is an increased appreciation for the world around us, and the ability to see our world through a lens with less pollution.

To celebrate this strange Earth Day, which also happens to be the holiday’s 50th anniversary, CCAH is bringing the outdoors inside to help brighten their workspaces.

Go To Nature...

Many CCAHers are making sure they are getting their exercise by walking outside when safe. According to CDC guidelines, if you do decide to talk a walk, make sure you are keeping 6 feet between you and others not in your household, and you should wear a mask if you are able. Check out CDC resources and local recommendations before deciding if going on walks while social distancing is right for you! 

While at home, you can also take Jenny’s lead with a garden! While Jenny carries her lemon tree inside and outside every day, you can pick low-maintenance plants to start out with! Arwen recommends mint as an easy plant since “it’s kind of a weed, so you don’t need to worry about making it grow!”

Or Bring Nature to You!

One way to make sure you are keeping nature in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic is to bring plants into your workspace. Many people believe houseplants are the key to making your home office feel like a place you want to work, since plants can bring in a splash of color and make you feel less like you’re stuck inside—and, according to a NASA study from 1989, many plants can even help purify the air (although more recent research indicates that this may be a bit of an exaggeration unless you really, really like plants).

And if you didn’t have houseplants prior to stay-at-home orders, don’t worry! It isn’t too late.  When CCAH had a spirit day to show off our plants, Catherine got a special delivery along with her groceries …

No Green Thumb?

If you want to celebrate Earth Day but don’t have the gift to keep plants alive (like me), you can always donate to an environmentally-focused nonprofit! CCAH is lucky to work with several important changemakers, fighting to make a difference for our Earth. Bring your voice to the global conversation around climate change, and check out the Earth Day site for more ways you can get involved for Earth Day’s 50th anniversary!

CCAH has a long history of working remotely

Around the world, businesses have been forced to deal with the coronavirus crisis and learn how to operate remotely from the homes of their employees. This has been an intense struggle for companies that had little experience with telecommuting before Covid19 quickly and unexpectedly reshaped the economic landscape.

However, Chapman Cubine and Hussey was well prepared when the time arrived to begin working remotely because our firm has a long history of allowing employees to work remotely.

Jim Hussey, Chairman

CCAH began telecommuting in 1997 when a valued staffer moved to San Francisco from our original base in Washington, DC. We decided we could not live without her and took advantage of the then new-fangled Internet to see if someone could work remotely, away from our office.

We quickly learned that this new technique not only allowed our firm to hold onto valued staff, but that telecommuting was an indispensable tool to improve our services and grow our company. Within two years, our use of telecommuting quickly developed into a fully staffed West Coast operation that opened new markets for talented employees and new clients.

We soon also realized that this new technology allowed us to tap into employment talent pools in every corner of the United States, hiring excellent employees who were previously considered out-of-reach because they were not within commuting distance of Washington, DC or San Francisco.

Today, 23 years after we began the use of telecommuting, a large percentage of our staff works remotely full time and part time from their homes (as I am today from Connecticut). In fact, we have staff in 14 states!

So when we made the decision in mid-March to send the entire staff home to work remotely, all of the necessary systems were in place. Our IT staff already had two decades of expertise, the infrastructure was ready to go, each employee had their own company-issued laptop, and we were highly-experienced with teleconferencing amongst ourselves and our clients.

As a result, the work of our 120 employees continues forward, uninterrupted. Our hospital and health oriented clients must raise even more money than before. Older Americans and others in need are desperate for help. Elections still must be won. Rights must be protected. Abused animals still need our help. And the work of our many other charitable clients must go on. 

And as long as it is necessary, the employees of CCAH will continue working from our homes to ensure that the funding for these worthy causes continues to flow.

COVID-19

CCAH Status Update for COVID-19

I hope that you and the team remain healthy and safe in the current climate. I wanted to update you on the status of CCAH staff during these uncertain times.

Like you, we will diligently monitor the progress of COVID- 19. We are relieved to report that to date, none of our CCAH employees have developed symptoms. Prior to any government recommendations we took precautions as company to protect our staff and clients. At the beginning of the week, any employees who may have been in contact with or exposed to someone with the virus in the past two weeks have self-quarantined. Any team members who have traveled internationally in the previous two weeks will self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return. 

The safety of our employees, their families and our clients is our top concern. Therefore, we are implementing the following guidelines and proactive measures, effective immediately. These guidelines represent our best judgment, at this moment, regarding practical steps we can all take to reduce risk for ourselves and for each other.

Business Travel & Conferences: Out of an abundance of caution, we have asked our employees to refrain from business travel at least through the end of the March. We will instead use video conference technology or look at options to reschedule any critical face-to-face meetings in the coming weeks.

After a successful test run of a mandatory remote work day on Thursday March 12, and carefully monitoring our network and servers during such times, we believe it only prudent to continue this practice. Therefore, CCAH is implementing a mandatory remote working policy for all staff effective Friday March 13 through Friday, March 20.

We will continue to monitor the situation daily, and we look forward to getting back to the office in the near future. In the meantime, we will make any short-term adjustments as needed, but continue to operate business as usual on your behalf. Several of our clients have also published great resources and we encourage you to visit them, and the CDC’s site.

We thank you for your partnership. We hope that you and your families continue to be safe and stay healthy.

Please feel free to reach out to me or any of the other partners directly with any questions or concerns. 

Very best,
Kim Cubine's Signature
Kim Cubine
President

Kim Cubine