This is an unprecedented moment for everyone, including for nonprofits. Suddenly you can’t meet in person with donors or hold large events to attract new donors. You can’t show prospective donors around your offices, and you can’t visit them in their homes or workplaces. But there are still things you can do to build donor relationships—yes, even now.


Pick up the phone

Everyone’s lives have been disrupted by the coronavirus and shelter-at-home orders, so pick up the phone and call your donors. Make it a video call, if they prefer. The point is to check on them and let them know you care. Ask them how they are doing, let them know you’re thinking about them and are concerned about their well-being, and find out if there is anything you can do to help.


Simply checking in will go a long way toward building lasting relationships.


Give donors opportunities to help

Many donors are in a position to help. They may have time, money, connections, and other resources that can help—so make it easy for them by providing practical ways they can stay active and contribute to your organization or others.


For example, you could encourage your contacts to donate blood, providing links and resources. Or, like the YMCA, you could turn your regular in-person events into free online events, like the group exercise classes available through the new Y at Home program. Boys & Girls Clubs have created a COVID-19 Relief Fund that you could encourage donors to contribute to, or there might be a local fund that you could connect them to.


If your nonprofit serves particular groups of people, such as the elderly, you could invite donors to write cards, make calls, or contribute to targeted programs that your organization or others are running during the pandemic to serve that group.


Create shareable content

You’ve probably seen bookstores sending out emails with book suggestions, like the year’s 10 bestselling young adult novels. The idea is to get you to buy a book, of course, but it’s also to send you content that is so appealing you’ll send it on to others. That’s exactly what you want to do for your donors.


In your emails, social media feeds, and other outgoing content, brainstorm ways to make it especially interesting, entertaining, or inspirational. Consider creating a daily or weekly theme or a challenge that people can participate in. Obviously the dream is to go viral and attract thousands of new donors, but even if your content simply gets every donor to pass it on to one or two friends, you’ve not only engaged your donors but also gained new contacts that can benefit your organization.


Be honest about your needs

Donors want to help, so be as open as possible with them about how the coronavirus is affecting your organization. You don’t want to seem completely overwhelmed, but it’s appropriate to let them know about your most pressing concerns and the struggles of the people you serve. You might be surprised at how many people will step up to help, if they know that your needs are urgent.


We’re here to help

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with businesses and nonprofits of all sizes. Our experts are available to provide consulting and other remote services—whatever you need to help you get through these challenging times.