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Coronavirus: Planning for Impact

“Is anyone changing their fundraising plans in response to the coronavirus concerns?” That was a question we were hearing from TNPA members. We conducted a quick poll last week among ADRFCO Council members on behalf of their wide range of nonprofit clients.  The three questions posed were:

1. Have any of your clients proactively spoken with you with concerns about a coronavirus pandemic impacting their fundraising programs?

2. Are you advising your nonprofit clients to prepare for financial impact from a coronavirus pandemic?

3. Do you believe the abrupt stock market drop will impact fundraising results over the next 3-6 months?

Twenty-four agencies, with clients across various sectors, participated in the poll between February 27-March 2.

Response to Question 1: 21% of agencies had at least one client who was concerned about a pandemic impacting their fundraising programs (and 79% did not).

One respondent who said no added that their agency is “in the midst of discussing contingency plans right now for production in the US, impact to our staff and how we manage any infection that may be coming our way.  We are considering a full work from home policy as well.  For our clients, we’re looking at limiting mail, reprojecting cashflow and utilizing TM more.”

From a different point of view, another agency said, “We’ve actually had clients have a boom highlighting their work that could help stop the issue.”

A couple responses reflected the challenges for anyone dependent on materials produced and shipped from China.

“Face-2-Face is the most vulnerable channel,” was also a shared insight.

Response to Question 2:  Even when nonprofits aren’t raising the concerns first, one third of the responding agencies said that they’ve initiated discussion about the potential financial impact that a national health crisis could have on fundraising results.

Comments to this question include:

“As this unfolds, my advice will likely be the same as to every other major disruption including 9/11; 1) Acknowledge the crisis and state how the organization is helping solve it. 2) stay the course, don’t cut back on acquisition and renewal efforts.”

“Election fundraising along with a huge drop in retirement savings will create a terrible environment for suggesting a donor should consider an upgraded level of giving this year.  Focus on mission, and focus on renewing their support at any level.  You need to fear 2020 donor attrition like never before and prevent it to the best of your abilities.  Focus on how many active donors you will have to begin calendar 2021.”

And, more generally, responses acknowledged that the financial implication “bears watching,” and that “there could be impact … but we don’t know how extensive it will be.”

Response to Question 3:  More than half of agencies believe that there will be financial impact, judging by the abrupt response on Wall Street when the Centers on Disease Control issued its first warnings for the United States.

We’re opening up the poll for broader input from our nonprofit fundraising community.  Please take 2 minutes to participate and help us gauge how COVID-19 is affecting your fundraising plans as of now. We’ll share out results in our newsletter next week.

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