Navigating Your Fundraising in Light of Coronavirus

Ofcourse everyone at your organization is deeply concerned about the impact the coronavirus will have on your fundraising and how that will impact your operating budget and cash flow.

With spring galas and fundraising events being canceled and uncertainty around if you should move forward with capital campaign fundraising, direct mail and direct response campaigns — and if you do, what you should say or not say about the coronavirus — I’ve been thinking a lot about some advice I was given years ago by a former boss of mine.

And that if we are lucky that our organization and mission is #3 for folks. 

But here’s the part that makes this tricky.  If you think about priorities #1 and #2 for your donors, and then you think about it for yourself and your organization, you can quickly see disconnect.

For those of us who work in fundraising, the financial health of our organizations and our ability to do our job is our #2 — so of course we feel hyper focused on it. As we should be. 

But it’s not #1 or #2 for our donors.  At best, it’s #3. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s them having their priorities in the right place. Just like you do.

So where does that leave you?

Here’s what I know, and what this former boss of mine was trying to get me to understand. 

Your best bet to get your donors to care about your #2 priority, is for you to first authentically show you care about their #1 and #2 priorities.

What’s that look like?

Reach out to your donors personally today, but don’t lead with what you need or what’s going on with your organization, but instead ask them how they are doing, how this is impacting their loved ones and their businesses. 

I promise you if you do this, your donors will ask you the same in return. Your donors are empathetic, caring people — that’s why they are donors.  

And when they do ask you in return how you and your organization are doing, how the coronavirus is impacting you and your organization, you’ll be able to share what’s going on.  And because they care, they will ask how they can help.

Amy Varga

Amy Varga


Amy Varga is a beloved fundraising trainer, coach and consultant. She and her team at The Varga Group have guided over a hundred nonprofit clients to raise millions of dollars through their services in capital campaign counsel, major gifts training, leadership coaching, and board development projects.