HVFC Trends Research on Fundraising | Takeaway 5
Fundraising during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic causes economic uncertainty. Many development professionals expressed worries that COVID-19 and the corresponding (uncertain) economic situation might affect funding abilities from corporate, foundational and private donors. Some organizations have seen donations being put on hold. Moreover, as mentioned before, constantly changing measures as a consequence of COVID-19 make it more challenging to network with new potential partners and donors. Some in the sector however have a positive outlook on fundraising with COVID-19.
Why is COVID-19 challenging fundraising?
COVID-19’s impact on project implementation negatively influences abilities to network. Travel restrictions and work-at-home measures make it more difficult to meet people in person. Before and after online meetings, or during breaks, the screen often goes off whereas when meeting people in person this would be the moment for a coffee or a casual chat. Moreover, there are less fundraising events or other moments to meet many new people at the same time.
Usually, I rely on meetings with colleagues and acquaintances to help expand my network, and increase funding opportunities. So not being able to travel as a result of COVID has hit funding.
Another consequence of COVID-19 is that donors focus on stabilizing existing grantees. This makes it challenging to find new donors.
Moreover, some organizations experience a slow-down in project implementation. This can also make it more challenging to find new donors or start new projects.
For us, new assignments come forth out of doing projects well and achieving results. So when project implementation is slowed, it will be more challenging to get new assignments.
How to tackle this challenge?
Networking, building new relationships, and maintaining others is important for fundraising. Although networking opportunities from before the pandemic are still limited, there are many other ways to network, maintain and build relationships online. “One of the ways to find new and different partners is to do what you did offline, online.”
So going to remote conferences and events, getting your name and yourself out there and get people excited about what you do. At the same time, COVID-19 also gave us the opportunity to reconnect with people on more of a personal level, to check in how they are doing, but then also to organically find new opportunities to work together.
It might be beneficial for some organizations to look into alternative ways to get funding. For example, some project could be (partially) funded through sustainable investments.
In any case, when seeking funding COVID-19 can be used to reemphasize the need of your organization. As we have seen COVID-19 has highlighted existing problems and can therefore be used as an extra argument for projects or programs that aim to resolve these problems. For this, however, a solid strategy and value proposition is needed.
Fundraising — in major gift fundraising — has grown for those who really believe in our mission. In my position, I focus on a portfolio of select individuals with whom I create and sustain strong relationships. It is these relationships that are now helping sustain the gifts.
Driven by her interest for economics and data-collection and -sharing, Ilse led the very first HVFC Trends Research on Fundraising whose findings have already benefited hundreds of professionals worldwide.
About the research
HVFC has developed a new research initiative to track trends within the fundraising landscape. With the data collected we hope to analyze and explain the context of most of the challenges highlighted by our peers active in the fundraising sector. We then aim to further help you, and others, face current obstacles and anticipate future ones.
The pilot version of the research initiative was conducted throughout 2020 on fundraising professionals working across the world, from over 40 organizations, with diverse budgets ranging from less than a million to more than a billion euros. In a series of 6 blog posts we share with you the main takeaways.
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