As the pandemic marches forward, we can find silver linings for the nonprofit sector, especially for those organizations already investing time in cultivating relationships. Slow and steady wins the race, as board members, staff, and volunteers engage in authentic conversations with their respective circles of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances about their nonprofit’s work.

A sobering effect of 2020 is that donors are uncertain about their future financial standing and are even more selective about which organizations will receive financial support. With potentially limited resources, donors now focus on ensuring that their support makes an impact for good.

Long before the pandemic, fundraising experts like Jim Langley were issuing a clarion call to rethink fundraising as relational, rather than transactional. Relational fundraising is based on everyone sharing the nonprofit’s efforts and mission with their circles of friends, business associates, and acquaintances, well before there is a financial ask.

If board members shift their fundraising mindsets away from cold calling and toward relationships in the community, it can have a multiplier effect. You can help foster this shift by: 

    • Becoming intimately familiar with the programs your nonprofit offers and how they accomplish the mission. Know the WHY by heart and have specific examples of impact ready to share.
    • Viewing yourself as an ambassador. Opportunities to share your nonprofit’s work will arise, whether in the grocery store or a child’s ballgame or the next Zoom call.

Pressure to fundraise dissipates when one can genuinely share the impact a nonprofit is having.

Now is the time to approach potential donors you have a relationship with. Charity Navigator reports that 31% of all annual giving occurs in December, with 12% in the last three days of the year. And as you talk to your existing donors about the impact of their donations and ask for their opinions and advice on how you can weather the pandemic together, they are more likely to reach out to their fellow philanthropists.