The COVID-19 pandemic changed how we raised money for different school activities, athletic programs, and more. Budget cuts, reduced donor funding, and the avoidance of in-person interaction presented new challenges that fundraisers had yet to deal with.
Even as we adapt to the 'new normal' and social events open up, we may never get back to how things were before the pandemic, raising the need to review our fundraising strategies.
How COVID Changed Fundraising Forever
Besides the devastating health situation, the pandemic hit us hard on the economic front. There were massive layoffs as many businesses shut down operations indefinitely, forcing many donors to settle into a cautious routine as they struggled to adjust to the new reality.
The era introduced high levels of uncertainty to all stakeholders, as donors held their funds, preferring to watch everything unfold from a distance, and organizations held onto a thin lifeline hoping to come out from the other end of the pandemic. That said, a few institutions grabbed the opportunity to cash in on the social capital by revising their strategies.
Here are three trends that have emerged that fundraisers of all ages must take into account in 2022.
Make Technology a Top Priority
The COVID-19 crisis was the best time to cash in on automation as the primary tool for supporting fundraising activities. The pandemic opened our eyes to the many ways that different technology platforms could improve our fundraising activities. For example, in-person meetings were replaced with Zoom calls, while virtual events replaced fun runs and yard sales.
If you already had a technology plan pre-COVID, now will be the right time to identify the potential gaps and optimize them. The value of a technology plan can't be overstated, seeing that it streamlines your fundraising and helps your team stay on track as you drive towards your goals. With the right digital fundraising platform in place, you can take your fundraising efforts to the next level:
- It eliminates heavy reliance on cash payments and makes it easy to donate via cashless methods like credit cards, which could increase your collections.
- It automates fund collection and tracking, removing the need for mountains of paperwork.
- It makes it easier to track fundraising progress by participant.
Keep Your Communities Engaged
Your community includes the surrounding business community, your colleagues, and your students. All these partners play a vital role in fundraising activity success, yet all three were heavily affected by the pandemic.
Communication is critical when everything is up in the air, and it helps you sustain existing relationships with donors. Some of the people you relied on for funding might have struggled during this period, and reaching out to show your compassion is a great strategy to solidify relationships.
There are two important considerations to make in terms of community engagement.
Tap Into Social Sharing
Social media presents one of the best avenues for keeping your stakeholders engaged. You can use it to share updates of different impact projects and communicate your current needs to the donor community.
In terms of sharing the actual fundraiser itself, social sharing puts your campaign in front of more people than you could ever imagine. We all know that one aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend who loves generosity and is tapped into their local community — social sharing can allow them to work on behalf of your fundraiser with ease.
Tap Into Community Partners
Local community engagement is crucial to fundraising success in 2022. When you have excellent relationships within the community, you can organize your fundraiser around discount cards and books that include vouchers to local businesses. Donors earn discounts on places they already visit, community partners gain more business, and you run a more successful fundraiser — everyone wins!
Regardless of your outreach efforts, make sure they are born from a place of authenticity. This builds trust and encourages donors to help with a larger, more genuine cause.
Embrace Flexible Fundraising Strategies
When the COVID-19 crisis struck, everyone assumed that it would pass in a few months. When it didn't, many plans were disrupted. In the months and years to come, stakeholders engaged in fundraising for schools need to embrace contingency planning if they hope to sustain revenue generation during periods of uncertainty.
A contingency plan allows quick resumption to normalcy after an unforeseen event. Such plans contain detailed descriptions of how to respond to emergencies, including:
- Identifying the events that will trigger the activation of the contingency plan, such as a health pandemic or an economic crisis
- Sustaining the critical functions and guaranteeing the wellbeing of students, teachers, and their families
- Outlining the recovery timeframes (i.e. what do we do immediately after the emergency, and when do we expect to resume normal operations?)
With an emergency plan in place, you need to share it with every stakeholder, outlining their roles and responsibilities and testing it for effectiveness. Review the plans regularly and apply changes where new circumstances exist.
The Future of Fundraising in the Post-COVID World
Fundraising was challenging even in the best of times. The pandemic might have made it more intimidating, but it comes with massive growth opportunities for anyone willing to respond to the crisis with a focus on digital fundraising strategies.
Continuous donor engagement is a good place to start, but the adoption of fundraising technology is paramount. Coupled with flexible strategies that adapt to the changing realities, you will be able to raise more money without losing the freedom to work on your winning programs.
Launch Fundraising is an easy-to-use platform with all the crucial features you would look for in a digital fundraising program and more. Discover more convenient ways to raise money for after-school programs on our website and sign up to get started!