By Paul Diaz, Vice President of Policy, PIR
This article is part 7 of an 8-part series called “Bootcamp for Mission-Driven Organizations”.
Helen Keller said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” During this challenging period of battling COVID-19 around the world, many are suffering. Thanks to frontline workers, heroic actions have been—and continue to be—taken to overcome it. There are some amazing organizations doing incredible work to help others through this crisis. But not every non-profit has a COVID-19 mission. So, if your organization serves an important, even critical and lifesaving directive unrelated to the coronavirus, how do you continue to raise funds and awareness? How do you tell your organization’s story in an effective way? Let these Three Rs—stay Relevant, Read-the-Room, and be Resourceful—guide your digital marketing strategy during the pandemic.
According to a recent article about the COVID-19 crisis in www.hbr.org, “Every charitable organization wants to receive contributions right now. But very few have the temerity to ask their donors for a gift.” That’s understandable. Yet, by acknowledging the situation and leveraging relevant support or services, it can be done. An organization that helps victims of domestic violence might explain how the pandemic increases risk. Likewise, an organization like Darkness to Light (d2l.org) is providing information to help children facing sexual abuse during COVID. Theater organizations, unable to perform in-person, can offer virtual concerts, plays, and pre-recorded productions in exchange for donations. The Pack Podcast(www.thepackpodcast.org), for example, offers comedy shorts featuring famous actors to benefit www.feedamerica.org and www.actorsfund.org. And every organization can share a helpful list of COVID-19 resources on its website and social media, like this one from www.marylandnonprofits.org.
According to www.classy.org, 53% of donors say they will stop supporting a non-profit due to poor communication. Establishing the right voice and tone is essential, and never more so than during a crisis. (Here is a link to an article on the basics of crisis communication from www.nonprofitrisk.org.) The key with the current pandemic is to let your audience know that while the challenge isn’t disappearing in the near future, neither is your organization and what it stands for. Steadfast, reassuring, and thoughtful language conveys your respect for the struggles your audience may be experiencing with their families and in their communities. This article from www.pubicallies.org can help you learn how to thoughtfully craft your COVID-19 social media posts, emails, and web copy, while this piece recommended by www.thecne.org can help you secure and strengthen public trust.
According to this article on www.candid.org, during the pandemic, “New environments, new channels, and new opportunities abound. Smart, focused marketing that strikes the right tone can help nonprofits overcome this time of crisis, stretch their budgets, find new audiences, and even grow.” Here are some powerful resources to consider, according to the article’s author Sean Kerr, Founder and COO of Cause Inspired Media:
- Online advertising: With increased screen time, new user patterns, and fewer competitors, you can reach more of your audience for less.
- Google Ad Grants: Qualifying 501(c)(3)s can apply for a $10,000/month advertising credit-based grant to fundraise, spread awareness, and reach their audiences.
- Collaboration with Other Non-Profits: Join together for bigger impact, with such programs as www.givingtuesday.org or www.globalgiving.org.
Angela Duckworth, author of the bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, says: “When you keep searching for ways to change your situation for the better, you stand a chance of finding them. When you stop searching, assuming they can’t be found, you guarantee they won’t.” We hope these Three Rs will help equip you to find new ways to make the current situation better for your non-profit or good-for-the-world business. Remember: the world needs you now more than ever!
There are so many different ways that COVID-19 affects the work of non-profits. What’s needed is an overarching strategy (here’s a link to help you create one) that guides your response. In addition, getting buy-in from leadership and board members about your plan is key. This non-profit resource guide from www.boardsource.org offers a wide array of tools to do just that, while this article from www.councilofnonprofits.org provides advice on topics ranging from how to keep equity at the forefront to which technology tools are best to help you plan virtual meetings and conferences.