As the impact of the Coronavirus continues to unfold around the world many non-profits are wondering what they can and what they should be doing. Symphony Advancement has gathered input and ideas from our non-profit clients around the country. Here’s what many of America’s leading non-profits are doing right now.
Cancel or Suspend – With many states across the country moving toward “emergency” or “shelter in place” directives, organizations in areas with widespread prevalence of the COVID-19 virus, or a standing order from government health officials should cancel, suspend or plan on rescheduling any events or group activities occurring prior to May 4th, 2020.
Communicate With Your Constituents – Every non-profit needs to be in communication with your client or constituent base as soon as feasible. If your organization has a disaster or crisis response plan it’s time to put it into action. If you’re handling things on the fly, our recommendation is to make use of: a) the web, b) social media, and c) email to contact supporters, community members, staff and volunteers. Even if you aren’t currently planning on making changes to your operations, it’s important to reach out to the community and let people know your current status, says Jeffrey Robb, Symphony Managing Director.
Be Proactive – School district closures and shelter in place directives have many Americans staying at home for at least the next few weeks. With many of our clients unable to hold physical gatherings, we’re seeing an explosion of creative though around how non-profits can connect with the community using the web, social media and online platforms. New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Paris Opera are offering free broadcasts of previously recorded Opera’s. The Berlin Philharmonic has also opened it’s digital vaults. Video productions, Facebook live broadcasts and digital content downloads are great ways to offer people something to do while keeping your organization in the community, said Robb.
The Golden Rule for Non-Profits – ASK! It’s an old saying among fundraisers, you won’t receive a donation unless you ask. It’s time to ask! American’s are the most generous people in the world, giving by individual donors is the single largest source of non-profit income nationwide. In times of crisis, whether hurricanes or economic recessions American’s respond to people and organizations in need. Nearly all of our non-profit clients are conducting widespread emergency appeals. Activities range from appeal donation buttons on home pages, to electronic appeals, social media campaigns and GoFundMe pages.
Explore New Revenue Opportunities – In many instances, community outreach can result in new ways for organizations to generate donations or income. The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre is currently making previously recorded content available (as suggested in number 3) for a fee of $15 per viewing. First Stage is encouraging donors and community members to purchase gift cards which may be redeemed later for Education Program tuition fees. The Pabst Theatre has created an employee emergency relief fund which has already generated an excess of $30,000. Jeffrey says, “The challenge for non-profits is to think differently about how you deliver your services. Are there mission related opportunities that can be leveraged with little or no investment,” he continued “I certainly wouldn’t advise groups to be making large investments at this point, but if there are ways you can leverage in-house resources, services and content – that’s certainly worthwhile to explore.”