3 ways to keep raising funds in the COVID emergency

by Garth Stirling
August 7, 2020

This year, most of the organisations we work with at ntegrity saw an influx of new donors at tax time.

Though the timing was right, many of these donors weren’t giving for tax reasons. They were giving to a global emergency: COVID-19.

As the pandemic persists, people are still looking for ways to help. That’s why it’s critical that charities continue their marketing during the COVID-19 crisis, even out of standard campaign moments.

People were compelled to help those most affected by the global pandemic. Their motivation to donate was not a tax decision, but an emotional decision.

As the pandemic continues, you must stay in front of existing and potential donors to ensure they know how you’re helping those in need. Here are 3 ways to continue your marketing during COVID-19:

1. Evolve your messaging based on what your audience is seeing in the media

The global and local situation is ever-changing and the messages from governments and the media are evolving.

On a day-to-day basis, we’re hearing about new groups who are affected by the pandemic: survivors of family violence, people experiencing homelessness, medical staff on the frontline, refugees and displaced people.

As marketers, it’s important to keep ahead of these messages. Monitor the media and use tools like Google Trends to anticipate where donor sentiment lies based on what they see in the news.

This chart shows interest in the search term ‘how many homeless in Australia’. These trends match key events, such as the beginning of COVID-19 in Australia and announcements around the state of unemployment.

COVID-related trends have spiked

Source: Google Trends. Search interest for ‘how many homeless in australia’

These tools provide the perfect opportunity to align messaging with what people are talking about. People care about homelessness, family violence, asylum seekers, elderly loneliness — show them how you’re responding by integrating these messages into your communications.

Source: Berry Street / Instagram.

2. Provide frequent updates on the situation

Donors want to know that their money is making a difference right now. Reporting back on your promise to them through frequent communications and updates will build transparency and connection to your cause.

With the speed and evolution of an emergency, infrequent report-backs via costly methods (such as direct mail or waiting for your annual report) will not be enough to provide transparency and build trust.

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate during an emergency. Unfortunately, many charities have been under scrutiny following the Black Summer bushfire crisis. Showing donors the impact of their gift can protect against this.

Invest in impact reporting across social media, video and email to reach your donors where they are right now:

  • Report back on how you’re helping via organic social, featuring visual situation updates and stories from the field

  • Feature recipients in video made for digital

  • Send email updates on the situation to donors who donated to COVID-19 or emergency-focused tax appeals

Frequent updates will provide opportunities to educate new donors on the great work you do and ultimately turn them into advocates and repeat donors.

3. Ask for a second gift

COVID-19 is a protracted emergency, the situation is ongoing and changing every minute. There are multiple opportunities to ask your donors to make another gift.

Source: Australian Red Cross.

Ask for the next gift when the topic becomes relevant again (monitor Google Trends and the media) or when the situation deteriorates for your recipients.

Over a longer period of time, communicate the long-term support required to assist with the emergency. Often, donations peak at the beginning of the emergency, while support is largely needed in the longer-term recovery efforts.

Source: ntegrity. Funds peak in the early stages of a disaster

So inform your donors of the task ahead of you, and how they can continue to support you over the long haul.

Doing so can ensure you maximise your impact for months to come.