A New Philanthropic Landscape: Navigate confidently through COVID-19

A Message from Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, The Alford Group

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created unexpected challenges and new daily realities for your organization. While this is uncharted territory for all of us, we know that the need for your services and programs continues and The Alford Group stands ready to be your partner through this difficult time.

One reality that is not new is that Americans are generous – in good times and bad. That history of generosity has enabled us to weather challenges and come through difficult times stronger.

In recent meetings with many organizations we are helping clients navigate and create strategic approaches to meet increased demands for services, pivot on special events and engage with donors in meaningful ways. Over the past 40 years, The Alford Group has helped our clients navigate through national crisis, economic downturns and organizational challenges.

The most important thing to remember is that your donors and volunteers care about you and your mission. They want to know how they can help your organization. Here are some proactive steps – and specific strategies being implemented by our clients – to consider.

  • Stay in touch with your donors. Be transparent about the current situation and emphasize that your organization appreciates their support now more than ever. Be explicit about your needs and ways that they can continue to support your organization. Personalize the communication as much as possible.
    • Example: An Alford Group client is reaching out to donors with a video message from the CEO, sharing that the city and state are asking them to provide meals for seniors and children and emphasizing the increased urgent need for their support right now.
  • Call your top donors and key partners to update them on how your organization is responding to the increased demand for services, as well as to check in on their health and safety. If you don’t reach them by phone, leave a voice message and follow that up with an email or text noting you called and hope to connect with them.
    • Example: Several clients have created a list of key donors, then divided the list between staff and board leaders to make personal calls. On these calls they share how the donor’s support will go toward critical and high-impact needs. In addition to gift commitments, the call group shares the donors’ questions and comments to inform how the organization can best provide updates with other constituents. 
  • Ask your board members and volunteers to help you strategize ways to get through this challenge. Engage them in a meaningful way.
    • Example: One of our corporate clients is offering loaned professional services, donating computers for students to use at home and virtual volunteerism for nonprofit organizations they support. Think about the expertise, virtual help and in-kind support that your corporate donors or partners might offer and reach out with a request.  
  • Consider technology to be your new best friend by using cybersafe digital and virtual tools to replace in-person events and meetings. Consider turning your event, gala or conference into a virtual event. Conduct donor and volunteer meetings by video conference. Encourage online giving. Optimize social media tools to stay in touch.
    • Example: An international conservation client is launching a planning study for a $1 billion+ campaign. The Alford Group will conduct a virtual visioning session with staff and volunteer leaders from around the world to develop and refine the campaign case prospectus.
    • Example: An independent school canceled their gala and will launch a multi-channel digital auction and “paddle raise” using an on-line platform. Another school raised over $100,000 from their on-line auction and paddle raise this week.
    • Example: A well-known arts museum is inviting the public to join them online to go through its exhibits, explore their collection and partake in educational moments from the comfort of their homes.
  • Reach out to your peer colleagues and organizations. We can all support and learn from each other by marshaling the collective knowledge of the field. Now is the time to share and showcase the power of the not-for-profit sector to make a positive difference in this stressful and uncertain time.

The Alford Group is here to help and support you in any way we can. Let’s be in touch to discuss how to keep your fundraising efforts on track, how to keep your volunteers and donors engaged, and – most importantly – how to continue to fulfill your important missions.

We invite you to email us at info@alford.com with questions, comments and ideas. Stay tuned to our website as we post resources, announcements and other tools to help you navigate confidently through this time of uncertainty and prepare for a changed world.

Warm regards,
Brenda B. Asare
President and CEO
The Alford Group