Fundraising in a time of crisis impacts us all, even if our clients aren’t directly impacted by COVID-19. In a time of overwhelming anxiety, stress and uncertainty you may be at a loss for how to communicate and where to start. Rachel Muir, CFRE will help you and your organization navigate these turbulent times.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Rachel, is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started officially?

Rachel: Absolutely, my friend.

Steven: All right, awesome. Well, good afternoon, everyone. Good morning if you’re on the West Coast, I should say. Thanks for being here. We got a full room. It’s Friday, sun just came out. I’m so happy you’re all here. We’ve got a giant room. I know you’re all really busy right now, so it’s awesome to see so many people joining us. We’re going to be talking about donor communications in the wake of this brave new world we find ourselves in. So thanks for joining us. I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating, you won’t have to listen to me for much longer.

But just a couple of housekeeping items real quick. Just want to let you all know that we’re recording this session and we’ll be sending out the slides and the recording a as well as all the examples. Rachel’s got goodies for you. We’re going to get that to you this afternoon, I promise. Just be on the lookout for emails from both of us. You’ll have that before dinnertime, I’m sure.

But most importantly, I know a lot of you have already done this, but chat in throughout the hour or so, we’d love to hear from you. Introduce yourself now, ask questions. We’re going to save some time for Q&A at the end. We’ll try to get to all the questions. I know there’ll be a lot of them. So if we miss you, don’t worry, we’re going to actually going to connect with you afterwards as well. You can also do it on Twitter, I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed, if you want to do that.

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, usually we have some newbies here, just want to welcome you all. Especially we do these webinars, usually on Thursday, but we’ve been doing about a webinar a day because we just want to get some good information out there. But what Bloomerang is, other than being a webinar provider, we actually provide donor management software, so if you’re interested in that, check it out. Don’t do that right now. Just adding that for context if you didn’t know what Bloomerang was already, but I’m so excited. We got my sister from a different mister here, Rachel joining us from beautiful Austin. How’s it going, Rachel? You doing okay?

Rachel: It’s going so great. I’m so happy to be with you, and I’m so happy to be with every single one of you today. Thank you for joining us.

Steven: Yeah. By the way, Rachel, this was her idea. She did this on short notice because she loves you all, so she’s doing us a huge, huge favor. And she’s spent the last couple of weeks just collecting, observing, helping people through this. So she’s just going to share a lot of that stuff that she’s seen and that she knows is working too. She’s at home, just like me. If our kids barge in, I hope you’ll forgive us. But I think you know what’s going on.

Just real quick on Rachel, if you don’t know, Rachel, you’re going to want to know her after this presentation, one of my favorites. She has been in your shoes. She’s a nonprofit founder, so she’s not just kind of one of these talking heads that hasn’t actually done what she talks about. And she’s all over the place. She’s writing and speaking when we’re having conferences, at least, she’s out there speaking, and is just an awesome person and has some good stuff for you. So I’m going to pipe down. I’m going to stop sharing, Rach, so you can pull up yours and I’ll let you take it away. And I’ll close this situation down too. Go for it.

Rachel: Awesome. You guys see my slides, everybody?

Steven: Yeah, the videos covering it up a little, you might want to . . . Can you drag those videos over? Yeah. I don’t know if you can hide that.

Rachel: Now?

Steven: Yeah.

Rachel: Okay. Is that good?

Steven: It’s still covering the sides. Now it’s good. Yeah, you’re good. Sorry. All good.

Rachel: Okay. So welcome, you guys. We’re going to be talking about how to communicate with our donors in this brand new reality. This is me. As Steven said, I have spent my career in the trenches just like you as a fundraiser, I started my own nonprofit called Girlstart to empower girls in math, science, engineering, and technology with $500 on a credit card when I was 26. Girlstart still exists. It’s still going well.

What I do is train people to be better at their fundraising. I do a lot of online classes. I do a lot of online workshops. I’m in the process of launching an online subscription program, which we’ll hopefully hear more about next week. I do a lot of training. Now that’s all virtual. But I love helping people be better at their fundraising. And my goal for you today is to help you feel more confident and successful and prepared and ready to get out there and give it all that you have. So I’m super excited to be with you.

I’m a mom of twins, and I’m not nailing it on homeschooling, to be totally honest. But this is a whole new reality that we’re all like kind of making our way through and who knows a couple . . . I have twins so one of them might pop in at any time. If you come by, wave hi because this is being recorded.

So I do workshops and board retreats. Right now all of that’s virtual. You can learn more about me on my website, And I have today’s slides up. If you want to grab these, now you can. But know that we will be sharing these, of course, and know that you can type questions, of course, any time.

I want to say, we’re all in this together. And also on a positive note, can I just give a shout out for how happy dogs are right now, just loving it that everybody’s home, loving on them. But we’re all in this together. And I’m really grateful that you chose to spend your time today with Steven and I and I guarantee you that you’re going to get inspired, you’re going to get examples. You’re going to get tips, you’re going to get strategies, and you’re going to get lots of tools that can help you communicate virtually with your donors. And I’m also going to be talking about what to say to those donors as well. How much you’ve communicated already with your donors.

Okay, so the first poll is which describes your organization. I’ve sent one update telling them how we’re coping with this. The other option is, I’ve sent one appeal how this crisis is impacting our beneficiaries in asking for money. Three is, I’ve sent multiple appeals and multiple updates. And the last one is, I haven’t done it yet. So you guys should be seeing a poll.

Steven: Yeah, looks like most people, Rach, are saying, 45% are saying they’ve sent one update, so that first response. And then it’s pretty evenly split below the next three. And then on the second question, a majority of people, 66% are saying that everyone’s on board, we got to continue. That’s good. And then there’s a big drop off to about 10% or 15% for the other three, so both of the first options are winning on the question.

Rachel: Okay, so I’m curious. How many people, Steven, typed in and said that they’ve sent one appeal, like what percentage answered that?

Steven: One appeal is 12%.

Rachel: Wow. Okay, and who said multiple appeals? How many people are doing multiple deals?

Steven: Multiple appeals about 20%.

Rachel: Okay. Okay. So this is really interesting, because we’re all fundraisers now. This is one thing that I want to share with you guys. And tell me if you can see my screen again right now.

Steven: Yep, you’re good.

Rachel: Okay, so here’s what we are going to be talking about my fundraising friends. I’m giving you a pep talk. I’m going to talk to you about why and how you should fundraise right now. We’re going to talk about what history has taught us about fundraising in a crisis. I’m going to empower you to do some fearless fundraising and love on your donors. I want to stress that with only 12% who have sent one appeal and only 20% of you who’ve spent multiple, I want to encourage you. My goal for today is that you are going to leave this webinar and you’re going to feel more empowered to get out there and fundraise, because this is the time to do it. And if you don’t do it, you’re kind of guaranteeing that you’re not going to see any results.

So my goal for you today, is that you . . . Oh, cool. I love this. I love that I can see this. This is really awesome that I can see you’re . . . I’m going to leave it up here. Thank you for sharing that poll. My goal for you guys is that you are going to leave this feeling more confident if you’re not right now because the truth is, everyone is in fundraising now.

Yesterday, I got a message from one of my favorite executive directors. And she shared with me a fundraising appeal that she basically wrote for her hairdresser. Her hairdresser is seven months pregnant, and she can’t cut hair right now, so she’s inviting everyone on [Contour Liz 00:08:46] to buy a gift card now to book a future appointment with her or buy gift cards for friends.

So I want to encourage you, your donors, and I’m going to talk about this more, your donors love you and they want you to make it through this time. And giving feels incredibly good to donors and especially feels good now because it makes us feel like we can make the world a better place and that we have some control in an environment where we might not normally feel like we have control.

The other super awesome thing that we are doing today, and I love that no one’s telling me that there’s a problem with the chat, so hopefully booting those children off of Wi-Fi worked, but one other thing that I’m going to share with you that I’m super excited to share is I’ve got lots of really great eye candy examples that I’m going to share with you. And I’ve been out there just like looking and asking everybody, “Okay, do you have any good appeals and what’s going on?” And I’ve got lots of different examples. I’m going to show you some really especially good like stewardship videos that are going to warm your heart, maybe make you cry. And I’m going to give you some tools that you can use to communicate with your donors, virtually and we’ve got a little bit of time for Q&A. And I have answered some of the questions that you guys gave me ahead of time as well.

So let’s just dig right to it. Let’s just go straight forward. Are you creepy to fundraise now? 66% of you told us that everyone is on board with fundraising in your organization. I’m feeling like you guys are not feeling like you’re creepy to fundraise right now. Okay, we can hide the poll if it’s limiting you, Steve. Okay, perfect. I’m guessing because 66% of you are on board with fundraising, this isn’t so much of an issue for you now. But it would be creepy for you to fundraise around supporting good works when you aren’t. Okay, that’s creepy. That’s unethical. That’s inappropriate. But if your ability to provide services is being hampered, if you’re on the verge or already cutting services, if you’re on the frontlines, if your clients are being impacted, then yes, you need to fundraise and helping people is the kind of fundraising that would make your mom proud. Am I right, Steven?

Steven: Yes.

Rachel: This is the kind of fundraising that . . . Okay, and I get it. Amy says, “Hey, 34% of us do not have everyone on board.” And I’m going to speak to that, Amy, so don’t you worry. But that is creepy fundraising, claiming that gifts are going to support good works when they won’t. That’s creepy fundraising. But helping beneficiaries is not creepy fundraising. We need you. You are the helpers and you are out there and this is the time when we need you.

I want to remind every single one of you that your donors love you. Your donors love you. And it feels good to give to you and in a time of uncertainty and a time of stress, giving can allow you to feel like you have some control. I want to see the causes that I love and support continue. I want to see them be able to serve their clients and their beneficiaries. I’m excited about how people are being able to serve people in new and innovative ways. And I know we had a library who just typed in the chat, and I’m going to let Steven respond to them because I know how passionate Steven is about the amazing work that libraries are able to do right now.

Don’t assume that your donors are not going to support you. You know what? They’re adults, let them make that decision for themselves. Do not make that decision for them. Let them decide for themselves. I love the organizations that I support. I just became a monthly donor of an organization that I support. I was really thinking about them and how are they going to do and how are they going to make it through this crisis?

Don’t assume that your donors won’t support you. If your clients are being impacted, let your donors know, let them decide. They’re adults. If they don’t want to give to you, if they cannot give to you, then they won’t. But they’re adults and they need to decide. They love you, they give to you for a reason, they care about you. You are part of their extended family and they want to know that their family is okay. They’re adults, you’re not going to trick them into giving to you, they’re not irresponsible. They’re not like just like out there giving without control or abandon, so let them decide for you.

This is something that we know for sure. If you don’t fundraise, you won’t raise any money and it doesn’t really matter, whatever disaster. If we look at 9/11. If we look at the recession of 2008. If we go back in history and we look at the financial crisis of 2008. I was fundraising at Girlstart. I was doing a capital campaign during that time and there were a lot of organizations that pulled back on their fundraising. We didn’t, we split up our campaign. We did not pull back on our fundraising, but a lot of organizations had a lot of success during that period. And one way to guarantee that you don’t have success is to pull back in your fundraising.

You’re right, Jeremy, this is different than 2008. We have a pandemic, and we have an economic crisis. We have both of these things going on at the exact same time. And you’re absolutely right, Jeremy, that this is different. But the thing that is the same is that if you stop, if your beneficiaries are being impacted, and you’re not fundraising for them, and you’re not trying to support them during this crisis, and you’re not fundraising, then you won’t raise money. The one thing that’s true is if you don’t ask, you won’t get and it doesn’t really matter.

Sean Triner did a webinar for you guys a while back. And one of the things that he said is, he’s in Australia and the bushfire crisis, and whether it’s a tsunami crisis, or Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Harvey, or the bush fires, some organizations grew a lot during the bush fires. But the organizations that sat back and said, “Well, it’s only the time for the environmental organizations and it’s not the time for us to fundraise and so we won’t,” that guaranteed their future.

Jeff Brooks would tell you that fundraising you don’t do is guaranteed zero revenue and it’s also a lost opportunity that you are not going to get back. Holly is saying, “We’re calling our donors to check in on them and offer an update on the calls. We don’t ask for money, but we feel that the update will prompt more gifts and remind people the work we’re doing to protect the vulnerable population.” Good for you. Holly. I want to brag on Holly because she’s out there getting in front of this. She’s out there communicating with . . . I’m so sorry, I moved something and dropped a stapler. She’s out there loving on her donors and showing that she cares. So good for you, Holly.

So if you’re here, and you are asking, “Oh, should I send my appeal out?” If you don’t ask, they won’t give. And if you cut fundraising, if you go and lay off the fundraisers, then you’re really guaranteed to raise less and it may not be something that you recover from. So that’s something I want you to know. I love this.

This is a tweet that Steven screened. And this is on Bloomerang’s . . . I have a lot of posts from Bloomerang’s resource page, and Steven is on their resource page. And there is like a free appeals clinic that he does on Fridays where you can send in your direct mail appeal, and he will review it and give you feedback. Maybe want to post that link in there but it’s on Bloomerang’s page. Bloomerang has this great page of all these code resources. But I love this tweet that he sent the other day, “Organizations that are comfortable with vulnerability are raising more money right now. This current crisis will teach the skill of being vulnerable . . . some orgs will not learn the lesson even now.”

So here’s some advice. Take care of yourself. Obviously, if you need to cancel or postpone an event, if this is harming your clients, share it with your donor so they can help. Don’t make the decision for your donors. Don’t rob your donors of giving opportunities. You need to not be tone deaf, and you need to communicate what’s happening in your appeal. I’m going to talk more about this later and show you examples of this. Are your clients impacted? Share how and ask for the urgent help that you need. Maybe you’ve got a pop up on your homepage.

If this isn’t related to you, you can communicate, “Hey, this was a crisis before.” There are a lot of things that I care a lot about that may not be directly related to this crisis, but I don’t want them to stop their fight. I don’t want them to give up. I still care about voting rights. I don’t want anyone to be suppressed from voting. That’s still something that I’m going to continue to support. There may be causes that may or may not be directly related, but you have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. You are going to get the slide, Sean, don’t worry.

Be nimble, be flexible, be fluid. This is the time where we need to move on a dime. You know that you can lose your donors’ attention and you may have to do more to get it in terms of being bolder, in terms of communicating in different ways, in terms of using new tools. One of the tools that I’m going to show you is video email.

So this isn’t business as usual. If you’re being impacted if your clients are being impacted, if you’re trying to raise money to compensate for a shortfall, to compensate for a loss of revenue, to better serve clients because there’s more demand to serve clients with other programs that are more expensive because you have to do them in different ways, you want to be communicating with your donors. This is a mix of appeals. It could be an email appeal, it could be a direct mail appeal, updates for your donors, stewardship for your donors. I’m going to show you lots of examples of that. Just simple, helpful things. It could be a webinar. It could be a town hall, it could be . . .

I’m seeing amazing examples. There’s an organization here in Austin. It’s called Generation Serve and it’s helping young people volunteer. So they’re sending out, here’s things that you can do virtually with your kids. Steve and I were just talking before we started about some resources that your library was doing that they were sending out. The Boy Scouts can send or, you know, here’s hike that you could do, or here’s a virtual hiker, or here’s a way that you could virtually earn this badge. The Girl Scouts can have like online badges. There are lots of different ways that you can communicate, but it needs to be a mix of ask and updates and stewardship and helpful things.

If you have older donors, how can you support them right now? They won’t forget you and they’ll always be grateful to you for reaching out to them and having relationships with them. But I want to stress to everybody that we need to . . . I don’t want you to be tone deaf. I want you to acknowledge the elephant in the room. If you send something out and you don’t, it’s going to feel like, “Where did this come from? What’s happening here?” So you need to communicate with empathy.

If you go on like nothing’s happening, like this is just business as usual, you’re going to come off as being very, very tone deaf. So don’t pretend that things are normal. And show your donors that you get them. I mean, think about what this is like right now for your older donors. Think about what your older donors, how are your older donors taking care of themselves? How are your older donors grocery store shopping? How are your younger donors who, maybe this is the first time they’ve ever, like worked from home?

I saw a really nice appeal recently, and it had some really great language that was really about just acknowledging . . . The subject line was, “I’m thinking about you.” And the language was, “This has been a dip . . . This has been such a difficult time. You are facing challenges that you never imagined. Trying to work from home, trying to work from home while you’re taking care of your kids, distance learning for your kids, worrying about your family, worrying about the health of your family.” Show your donors that you get them. When you send out messages that don’t acknowledge any of this it feels really tone deaf.

I kind of live in two different worlds because I live in the fundraising world and I also get a lot of communication from online marketers, and I hear a lot of online marketers that are sending messages that feel completely tone deaf because they’re not doing anything to acknowledge what’s happening right now.

This got some press this week. Ole Miss sent out . . . Oh, this is so timely because Mariko from Alaska . . . Well, you got to type in and tell me what temperature is in Alaska right now. Ole Miss got criticized this week because they had this campaign . . . 39 degrees. They had this campaign that I think was maybe like on autopilot.

You need to revisit all of your communications. If you have planned communications, like your email autoresponder, I’m going to talk about this later, but your email autoresponder that you’re sending out right now needs to thank donors for being so generous at a time like now. So I’m going to give you examples of doing that later.

But if you have something that, “Oh, we were going to hit that campaign and we haven’t revisited it,” you need to revisit everything that’s about to run. This came off as . . . There was a very negative reaction to this. There is also, I want to say, I want to acknowledge that I’ve seen so many articles recently about people planning their wills and people revisiting their wills and people really focusing on that. You might have a donor who starts a conversation with you about planned giving, and having conversation with that donor about this is something that I would say could absolutely happen. But my point in this is whatever appeals that you have, if you have some that are on autopilot, you need to stop, you need to look at all of those, and you need to think about how this is going to be perceived right now.

Okay, so to help you embrace your vulnerability, my fundraising friends, I want to invite you. I mean, you’re thinking about sending out an appeal, something like 38% of you said that you were still getting pushback from people around fundraising right now. So if you are feeling like . . . So just tell me. What is the worst thing that’s going to happen? If you’re fundraising, your clients are impacted, you’re trying to raise money, what is the worst thing that is literally going to happen? I mean, it may not do well. Okay. Yeah, not doing anything is going to guarantee you that you’re going to raise nothing. I’m not a psychic and I can’t predict the future, but I can predict that.

Oh, so Brett said, “You could lose a donor.” Yeah, you could. You could offend someone. You could absolutely offend somebody. But you know what, if your clients are being impacted, if you’re trying to help your beneficiaries, and if you need your donors to support you in order to do that, and you’re giving them the opportunity to help the beneficiaries that they love, the reason why they support your organization, that’s your job. That’s your job as a fundraiser. Your job is not to offend as few people as possible.

I offend people sometimes. It’s okay. That’s all right. I’m never going to win everyone over. Before all this happened, I wrote this blog post for Bloomerang. What did we call it? It was like, “Your bill of rights as a fundraiser, the fundraiser’s Bill of Rights.” And that’s one of the things I talked about in there, is that like, you’re not going to make all of the people happy all the time. But if you’re out there, and your clients are being impacted, and you’re trying to raise money to better serve them, and you’re bringing those opportunities to your donors, there’s nothing wrong with that. That is fundraising that your mom would be proud of.

I want to say, Katie said, “We sent an email appeal to over 30,000 and we received less than 10 negative responses.” Thank you for sharing that, Katie. I really hope that Katie’s experience makes you guys feel better. I can tell you that, I’m on a lot of listservs and I’m in a lot of Facebook groups and I know Steven is too, and one of the things that I’m really seeing is people talking about, “My board won’t let me do this,” and so and so, “My CEO doesn’t want to do this.” And there’s a lot of fear around people fundraising right now. And I see these bright spots, like what you just shared where someone does and they’re like, “Wow, this really worked. Our donors were so happy to get this. They absolutely loved this. They responded to us. This went really well.”

If you think back, I’m just going to ask you in your fundraising minds to go back a few years ago, remember when we had the Ice Bucket Challenge? And honestly, I mean, if we’re being realistic, if that idea, which didn’t originate from ALS, if that whole idea came completely outside of the organization, but if that idea had come from the organization and it was being batted around in a board meeting, it could have gotten shut down. It could have gotten shut down.

Shona just said that, “We sent three email fundraising appeals and got three unsubscribes and have raised nearly $20,000. And so far, it’s working.” Harriet. Oh, I love Harriet from the Girl Scouts. “Our cookie program was interrupted so we sent out a special email appeal today to our supporters. Eat, share, show communities you care. They can order cookies for themselves or be donated to those on the frontlines of [inaudible 00:27:04] hospital.” That is awesome. I love that. I knew that Girl Scouts would do something amazing and awesome and fantastic. I love that.

So just know that. And I have a truth bomb here. This is Marc. This is Steven and I. I love Marc with his bowtie. And I saw this. He put this in, I think it was like the Nonprofit Storytelling group, the Facebook group. But he said, “If your board is telling you now’s not the time to ask, thank them. Then ask anyway. It’s not their decision.” So Marc said it, not me. And I think he even . . . I think someone even said, “Can I give my board members your phone number or something?” Anyway, I think he actually said yes. But look, this is what he’s saying, if your boards telling you, now’s not the time, thank them and ask anyway. If your clients are being impacted, if this is going to help better serve your clients if they’re being impacted, then you really have an obligation.

So this is one of my favorite authors. I love Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read every book that she’s written. And she used to have this column called “Dear Sugar.” And it was like an advice column. And people would write in and they’d ask for her advice. So, sometimes, I don’t know about you, but if you ever like to think like, what would Oprah do? I like to think, “What would Cheryl Strayed do?” or “What would Cheryl Strayed tell fundraisers to do?”

So these are real quotes. These are just my favorite quotes. I love this. “Bravery is acknowledging your fear and doing it anyway.” “This is not the moment to wilt into the underbrush of your insecurities, you’ve earned the right to grow.” We are all going to grow from this. We are going to grow in ways that we do not even know about right now. I am seeing so much innovation and I can’t wait to show you some examples a little bit later. I’m seeing so much innovation. And we’re going to be fundamentally transformed, the way that we communicate with each other, the way that we give, we’re going to see online giving absolutely completely skyrocket right now.

But the thing that I want you to know is you’ve got to be brave, and you’ve got to be authentic, you’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable. I want you to be brave. I want you to show your donors that you deeply care. And I don’t want you to be afraid to ask. And I’m going to show you a lot of tools to help you do this. Donor love is more important than ever before, ever before.

And if you have a question, type it into the Q&A box, and I’m going to do my best to answer questions at the end. And then I’m also going to answer . . . I’m going to do a blog post that will definitely come out next week because today’s Friday, and answer a lot of your questions there as well.

So donor love is more important than ever before. I’m going to show you lots of ways, innovative ways for you to show your donor love. But one way is that you be sensitive to the needs of older donors. They could be home alone. I’m hearing a lot of people are getting through to donors and a lot of donors are actually answering the phone when you call them. I’m going to show you some really great tools to help you cut through the noise. I’m going to show you video email. I’m also going to show you a really neat texting tool.

But if you have older donors, you can call them to chat, you can offer to help them. Maybe they need some help with ordering groceries online. They’re going to remember you for it. I have an example that I’m going to show you a little bit later of a sample video email thank you that I did. And then in it I say, “Hey, if you want to hop on the phone and just chat, I always love to talk to our donors. I’d love to hear . . . I’d love to just chat more. Learn more about you got, if you’ve got 10 minutes. Here’s the link to my calendar,” and I put it in there. So you’re going to see an example of that. I’m going to send out an email with links to all this as well.

I love this quote from Russell James, “Crisis is the time to show support. It’s the defining moments that identifies a friendship relationship rather than a transactional one.” So, in our world as fundraisers, there’s a lot of fundraising that is transactional. But this is a crisis. And this is your moment to really deepen this as an authentic relationship. And it starts with you not being afraid and it starts with you being vulnerable.

I love this. Jesse said, “I’ve spent all week calling and thanking our donors to let them know we’re praying for them and their families. Everyone has been incredibly thankful for the conversation, and several lapsed donors have given for the first time in years.” Yay, Jesse. Yay, you.

Danielle said, “I called some of our older donors.” She had something really lovely to say. I just lost the chat but she has something like, called some of her older donors. And one of them even said that she was just excited to talk to someone and it ended up being a really sweet conversation. This is lovely. This is lovely.

Gina asks, “How can I be successful in corporate engagement during this uncertain time?” With companies right now I don’t think you’re going to see a lot. They may be shut down. You can still communicate with the relationships that you had and talk to those folks, but for them, their budgets and other things are going to be impacted.

So I’m going to show . . . You’re going to watch this, but I’m going to be really fancy and I’m going to attempt the fundraising friends. Steven and I tested this when we started. So I’m going to attempt to play this video because this is really short and it’s really sweet. And this is a beautiful example of stewardship in the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in the UK. They’re a seafaring nation. Just like we have volunteer firefighters, they have volunteer rescue lifeboat crews who are going out rescuing people, and this is a beautiful sweet stewardship piece that they sent to their donors. It’s a really short video.

It is something that . . . I mean, I would assume that aside from him talking in front of the camera that a lot of the other footage they already have, this looks something that a similar organization could put together with existing footage and maybe like you and your webcam in a pretty short amount of time, even potentially using some tool as simple as iMovie. So I’m going to be fancy here, and I’m going to hit new share and I am going to show this video. So let me go from screen two. I’m going to optimize. Well, first I’m going to do this. Thank you. Okay, so do you see it?

Steven: I’m still seeing the slide, Rachel. There it goes. This just changed over.

Rachel: You see it.

Steven: Yep.

Rachel: I’m going to see if I can rewind it here. Here we go. Playing it from the beginning.

Dave: Hi there. My name is Dave and I’m a volunteer crew member. When we answer a call for help, it’s an uncertain time. We don’t know what we’ll face and we don’t know when we’ll see our loved ones again. But the thing that keeps us going is your support. And now, wherever you are, you’re probably feeling uncertain about the future too. That’s why I want to get in touch and say, today, we’re sending our support to you because you’re part of the crew and crew members look out for each other. So, on behalf of the lifesavers, thank you so much for thinking of us in the past. Right now, we’re thinking of you too. We hope you’re able to stay safe and well. From everyone at the RNLI, take care.

Rachel: Is that beautiful or what? I just love that video. Was everyone able to see it, okay?

Steven: Yeah, I think so.

Rachel: Okay, so I have a couple other videos and I’m going to go ahead and play these other ones. If that’s okay with you guys, since this seems to be working so far. So do you see a girl with a backpack right now, Steven?

Steven: Yes.

Rachel: All right. So, this one, I got to warn you. Okay, these next few videos that . . . The first one, my friend Barbara shared that with me on LinkedIn. I’m so grateful to her, my friend Barbara O’Reilly. So these next few videos are from my girl Lynne Wester, who I love and adore. And she’s like the comedian of fundraising. I just love Lynne. And Lynne serves a lot of clients in higher ed. And Lynne has some really great resources and she had these videos and I just love these videos.

So, before I play you this video, I want to say that the Royal National Lifeboat Institute video, simple, heartfelt message, short, definitely something that I feel like many organizations could pull together. Now, these next couple of videos, these are from universities, okay? I just want to acknowledge they have bigger budgets. But I want you to just be aware of the emotions in this, the pride in this, the pride that you would feel as an alumni even if you’ve never heard of Blazer Nation before, the pride that you would feel as an alumni and how they have so successfully in these videos managed to connect with, “I get you, this is heartbreaking. You’re not getting to have these experiences, but we can look back on our memories.”

So I want you to think about all those emotions because whether you are the Boy Scouts, or my girls, the Girl Scouts, this is a movement. Boys and girls club, this is a movement, this is my identity. This is part of something. And I want you to think about all the things that people bring to this experience and honoring that. So I’m going to play this video. I’m going to shut up and play this video.

Man: Dear Blazer Nation, today we are faced with anxiety and uncertainty. We have questions about . . .

Rachel: Oh, I’m sorry.

Man: . . . our future, about this new reality we each must face. Might we in this season of change, offer love, passion and kindness to our neighbors. To our seniors, know that your future is bright, and your greatest moments of celebration are still yet to come. To our many student athletes, know that you will find victory again, and the bonds that you’ve made with your teammates will last a lifetime. To our faculty and staff, your mission and impact has never been greater. The lessons and guidance you give now in this time will shape your students for years to come. And to the millions in Blazer Nation at home and abroad, remember that Blaze is always brightest in the dark. 1, 2, 3, Family. Continue to love, cherish, and value what means the most and know that deep within the Long Leaf Pines, there’s a place waiting to welcome you home.

Rachel: Okay. I love that.

Steven: Wow.

Rachel: So beautiful. Okay, so I’m going to go back. Do you see my slides now?

Steven: Yep.

Rachel: Okay, perfect. Okay, I’m just going to close this window here because you know how YouTube can suddenly just start playing some other video. So I hope that you guys enjoyed that. I hope that those inspire you. Okay, so we’ve got Blazer Nation. This is another really good one. But I want to be sensitive about how we’re doing on time because we have like 15 minutes left.

But this is another kind of similar one from Lynne’s alma mater, the University of South Carolina. This is the Gamecocks and this was a really beautiful tribute. You can watch it there, I will send you guys the handouts to this. You can download the handouts too, but I will include the links to all of these videos as well. I love video email. I’m going to show you guys a little bit about video email and how video email works and what you can do. Okay, I’m glad that you guys are loving the videos. Sweet.

Okay, so this is BombBomb video email. So I have been a happy customer. I don’t work for BombBomb. I don’t get paid if you sign up for BombBomb. I just love this tool and I use this tool. And this is a really neat tool that you can use to virtually communicate with your donors when you can’t be there. And it is so super easy. And you can literally record it from your inbox. I can literally hit play up and doing that lately and just telling people, “Hey, I’m thinking about you, I’m checking on you. I want to know how you’re doing, my friend.”

I’m going to show you an example. I’m going to show you an example a little bit later on of this and what this looks like. And I even set one that you’re going to get in my follow up video where I’m doing a sample thanks with a coronavirus specific script which is basically just acknowledging to people like, how much they appreciate that you gave to them now.

So there’s a lot of really great resources on Bloomerang’s webpage around the coronavirus resources. If you had an event you had to cancel, you can make it up. This is some tips from Steven Screen, make it up with an emergency appeal. Talk about how this is impacting your services. Why the gift this needed now. You can make your campaign deadline, the event date.

So just an idea, if you had to cancel an event, it feels like a lifetime ago. I feel like it was literally two weeks ago, I joined Office Hours that Roger Craver and Jeff Brooks and Sean Triner were on, just talking to people and these lovely people from Spectrum Sleepout joined and they were talking about their virtual event. Well, they were talking about their live event in Vermont like everyone’s sleeping out to draw attention to homelessness, and what should I do? And people were sharing ideas. And I was like, “Oh my God, and it just seems . . . It feels like a lifetime ago. I remember I was taking my daughter to the orthodontist appointment. Anyway, and I was like, “Oh, this is so great.” You could have people doing selfies and they could tag their friends in it.

Anyway, I have like a special heart for this because it just was something that . . . It feels like a lifetime ago, but it wasn’t that long ago. But the really awesome thing is they were able to really successfully turn this into a virtual event. Oh, Natasha participated in college. Susan says, “I love Spectrum.” So they were really successful in transitioning this to a virtual event. So they’re a really great example of successfully turning something into a virtual event.

I’m going to give you guys some sample appeals because I know you’re probably wondering. We already did this poll so we can skip that. If you have nothing to do with this, like if this is not impacting you directly, you can say, “Hey, the truth is, we had important work planned before any of us knew the extent of this and that work must continue,” okay? So that is something that you’re . . . But you have to address this. This is the elephant in the room. And it’s really important that you be able to address it.

So that is an example of someone addressing this, where they’re not involved and their clients aren’t impacted by coronavirus. This is an environmental organization. They’re not impacted by this, but they . . . And their donors . . . Let them donor decide. A donor who’s contributing to the environment, the environment is still going to be important to them, okay? Just because this is happening doesn’t mean that they don’t love the environment any less. If they can’t give right now, they won’t give right now, let them decide. Don’t make that decision for them.

This is some examples. All of these again, these are some examples from Mark Phillips. These are all up at Bloomerang’s website on COVID. So this is something that you can see this, acknowledging in the very first sentence here, “At this time of great worry and uncertainty for us all, I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are in good health.” Very respectful, very appropriate. I would avoid saying something in there like washing your hands or something like that. I mean, we don’t need to tell people that anymore. Although Steven shared before we started an adorable image from Boys and Girls Club where they take in their logo and they put up their hands and they put bubbles on it, which I absolutely love.

These are some examples of some emergency appeals. You can watch Sean’s webinar on Bloomerang website. Bloomerang has lots of really great recordings of other webinars.

But a couple things I want to point out here, the urgency, this is a crisis appeal, the use of “I” is something else I want to point out here. This is one of the most important letters I’ve ever written. This is the most important letter I have ever written. So this isn’t “we” this is “I.” This makes this language a lot stronger. And this is telling you exactly, this is exactly what’s happening, why money is needed now, how money now is going to make a difference.

This is another one. This is, obviously, appeal that Steven got. And this is in the examples that Bloomerang has up on their site. You can see there’s oodles and oodles and oodles of resources there that you guys can see. This is an example of a coronavirus email appeal. And so Steven Screen, and I know that this link is also on Bloomerang’s page. But every Friday Steven does this thing where he is editing . . . His people submit their appeals and he like edits them.

So this is a sample email appeal. It shares a specific example of how the virus is hurting beneficiaries of the organization. It talks about how this is an emergency fund and these are unexpected expenses. You need to be thinking about why the donor should give their gift right now. Putting an acute timely need in front of your donors is not slimy. It is not slimy. Donors respond to new acute means. So if you are having a disruption in serving families, and you are raising money to solve these problems, and that’s not in your budget, this is an opportunity for you to fundraise around that. So this example is there. You need to show your donors that you know them during this time.

So I’m also going to show a couple examples of corona-specific things. And I just have a couple more here. We’re almost done. I’m going to move fast. I want you to visit all of your thank you autoresponders. And I want to say, Steven put the link in the chat right there. If you want to sign up and participate every Friday, Steven Screen does that. It’s, you can sign up there.

But I want to mention that this is the elephant in the room and you need to acknowledge what is happening in your thanks. And this is beautiful. This is from Mark Phillips from Blue Frog, “The fact that you are thinking of others at what it is a worrying and difficult time for us speaks volumes of your kindness and fellow feeling.” I mean, they’re great to donate to you in the first place. But this is another opportunity for you to acknowledge what an especially generous human being that they are, that in a time of uncertainty they are stepping up to give. That is a very, very beautiful thing.

So you can watch this. I put this link up here. You’re going to get this in my email that I’m going to send you and this is me using a BombBomb video email to send a personal thank you to a donor. And I say in this, you’ll see this in the video that I send you, you can also watch it there. But I say in this, “How kind you are in times like this to support us.” Barry is saying, “Thank you.” You’re very welcome.

So if you have a question, just type it into the Q&A box. Whatever I can’t reach, I will do in a blog post. Okay, so I love this. I’m just going to do some stewardship examples now. So we’ve talked about appeals. I’ve shared some really awesome videos. I’m just going to share a few stewardship examples. If anyone has seen the awesome Shedd Aquarium animals who are like going on field trips around the museum. This is Wellington, the penguin. He’s going on a field trip. He is seeing the sea otters. Tyson the porcupine is taking a field trip. These are all really fantastic. And this is a really good stewardship. I feel like I’m there when I’m not. I mean, normally penguins aren’t roaming Shedd Aquarium on their own, getting to take a field trip but this is a really nice stewardship thing. I love this. You can watch this. I’ve put up this link right here.

You can see Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. I love Alvin Ailey Dance Theater so much. And they shot this amazing video of all of their dancers warming up to perform “Revelations.” And they’re performing the very first part of “Revelations” and it’s this beautiful . . . You get to see all of these different people in their home, in their t-shirts, in their backyard, in their sweatpants with their dogs, on their balcony with their kids in the background. And they’re all warming up and they’re all doing the beginning part of “Revelations” which they do as the final dance that they do at the end of their performance. It is absolutely incredible. And I love this. Ailey Dancers are still dancing.

I do an online class, and we were visiting today, and one of my students was like, “Oh my goodness, we had this whole crowdfunding campaign plan. We were going to have people who were going to be our singers. They were Phoenix Chorale. Our singers were going to be performing and people were going to be donating. And the singers we’re going to be like fundraising and crowdfunding for us.” And we talked about, “Hey, please don’t stop the music.” And we talked about individuals singing their favorite hand washing songs. We also talked about individuals singing about keep the music going. And we talked about doing a crowdfunding contest where whoever raised the most money, they got to pick from what song they were going to sing, and they were going to sing that song, and they were going to be the winner from their crowdfunding campaign.

So lots of different ideas. You’re seeing lots of fantastic innovation out here. If you haven’t seen this, Colorado Symphony performing “Ode to Joy,” it’s beautiful and it really reconnects us with . . . Steven and I talked about this a little bit at the beginning, arts organizations were like, “Well, we’re just the arts,” and people love . . . We love you. And we want to see you be successful. And you bring so much joy, so much beauty to our lives, and we recognize that and we appreciate that and your donors do as well.

And I love this. If you saw this, this was an elderly neighbor who was self-isolating and the neighborhood kids went to her front porch and just recorded a cello concert for her. These kids got all dressed up and went on her front porch just to bring her joy and happiness.

So I’m going to share a couple tools to make it easy. And I’m sensitive. We have like . . . I’m going to go so fast. I got to give a shout out to Boy Scouts of the Blue Mountain Council. This is BombBomb video email tool. They’re in their uniforms. You know, Girl Scouts could do something wearing their amazing green and navy and just talking to their donors. Hey, they had to reschedule an event. They shot a video email letting everyone know why they rescheduled, how they postponed it, when it was rescheduled for, thanking them for their support.

You can watch an example of this from my girl Julie Edwards from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. You can see it up there at, capitalize the J. I think she sent that around Thanksgiving. It was just a video that she shot from her desk thanking one of her donors. I love video email. You can have a free two-week trial and you can use that to send videos. If you become a customer, they will brand video email stationery for you with your logo. But this is a really nice way to get in front of your donor.

And here’s the really cool part, type into the chat if you would like to know if your donors are reading your emails, yes or no. Just type yes if you would like to know if your donors reading your emails without them knowing that you know that they’re reading their emails. Well, the other super cool thing about this is that when they open it, you get, it’s set that way. You can set your notifications. But you can set your notifications to be notified when your donors watch your videos. So I really rely on this a lot because I train people to be better fundraisers. And if I know that they’re reading my emails, then I know that they got it and that they might respond to me.

So another tool. This is an app, on your iPhone or your iPad that will allow you to digitally create a handwritten card. This is an app. Yeah, I saw them on Shark Tank, and I am not shy about emailing people and saying, “Oh my God,” or calling them and saying like, “I love this tool. Can I learn more about this? I think this is really neat.” In case you’re wondering how they did on Shark Tank, they got, I think $100,000 from Mr. Wonderful because Mr. Wonderful saw this as a play for the bridal market.

So I use this. Before the coronavirus was higher, I’d do a lot of board retreats. Can do those virtually now but I sent a thank you. We took a photo together of myself and the board members together and I sent it to the development director. This is a really neat tool. You never lick a stamp. This is all done completely virtually. They will make stationery for you. It can be accordion stationery. They will brand it with your logo. It is very inexpensive. I think it’s like $6 a month. You can even do a free trial, like it needs to be free. It’s so inexpensive. But it’s the

This is my last tool. This is my last tip. This is texting. I called this company on the phone, the CEO answered the phone and I was like, “I think this is so neat. And can I tell nonprofits about what you do?” And he was like, “Heck yes, you can, Rachel.” His name is Justin, by the way. He said, “Heck yes, you can and I’ll give them a free 30-day trial.” So if you want to try this say, “Hey, Justin, Rachel said that you’re going to give me a free 30-day trial.” He’ll give you a free 30-day trial. This is a really neat tool. You can just upload. It’s called Textology. These are some examples. I said, “Justin, I want some eye candy examples.” And he said, “Rachel, send me some photos and some sentences, and I’ll make you some.” And that’s what he did. And then he texted these to me. So you’re seeing screenshots of that. This is a super great tool to use for stewardship. This is a great tool to use to communicate your donors now.

And I get it that you’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “Well, I don’t know if I have my donors’ mobile phone or not.” That’s totally cool. Because what Justin does is he like uploads your file of phone numbers and his system will tell you like what is a landline and what is not a landline, so you don’t even have to know that. You don’t have to worry about that. But this is a really neat tool because I want you to know that text open rates are 98%, 98%. We open our text messages.

And what’s super also cool about this is . . . You probably know there’s a silence unknown callers feature on the new operating system, so it can be harder to get through when you’re calling your donors, although I am hearing a lot of people answering their phones, but what’s really cool about this is you can respond from your desktop. Just because you’re texting to a donor, you can send all these messages from your desktop and you can reply to messages. It’s, Oh, www. If it’s not working type www in front of it.

Thank you, Robin. I have a link to rachelmuircalendly/rachelmuir. I have some questions. Here’s my contact information so you guys can have that. I’m going to send you everything. You’re going to get everything in an email from me with all the links and everything else. I’m launching a new program that’s coming up, a new subscription program. I can’t wait to tell you guys more about that. I’m going to answer your questions. I have a lot of these here. Textology, okay. I’m sorry if that link is bad, they might be having internet problems. I promise it’s a good company, a valid company, but they may be having technology issues. So I’m going to answer a few questions. Well, do I have time to answer a few, Steven?

Steven: I have nothing else to do the rest of the day. So if people want to hang out, I would love to keep talking about this stuff because I’m fired up about it too.

Rachel: Awesome. I’m going to leave this up for anyone who wants to contact me or has to scoot out right now. And I’m going to hop on over to the Q&A box. Oh, I’m sorry. Lindsey, thank you. Okay, so Lindsey corrected it for all of us. It’s Sorry. So kind of like you guys, right. Bloomerang, your C-O not . . .

Steven: Yeah. It’s the cool thing to do these days, is to ditch the M.

Rachel: You trendsetter. Okay. So I’m going to go in and answer some of these questions. I’m just going to pop out some of these. I want you guys to have my information. Okay, Mackenzie asked . . . Oh, Gwen says she can’t see the chat thread. I’m not sure. I’ll let Steven take care of that. But Mackenzie asks, “Should our direct appeal mention COVID-19 or should we do our best to avoid addressing it?” If this is impacting you, this is impacting your clients, if you are trying to serve your clients, and this is impacting them, and you need to raise money in order to serve them, you should mention. If this impact’s you, you should mention it.

If this doesn’t impact you, if you are like an environmental organization that’s working on an environmental issue, and this doesn’t really relate to this at all, you could say this issue was important before this crisis, and it isn’t any less important now. The point that I want you to make and I want you to own this, and I want you to live this, and I want you just to like, own this space, and take advice from Cheryl Strayed here is, “Your donors are adults, and they are going to make decisions whether or not they want to give to you. And if they loved you before, there’s no reason why they’re not going to love you now.

And if they care about your issue, if you stop fundraising . . . ” I can’t just stop parenting. I can’t. If you stop fundraising, you know what’s going to happen. So I feel like I’ve given you some ideas and some strategies, whether you are directly impacted. If you are directly impacted, you need to get out there. Time is of the essence. Don’t waste any time. We’re kind of all fundraisers now. I shared the example of my friend. Whoops, I’ll share the example of my friend.

So I’m going to go through a few more of these and answer some of these. Okay, how do you balance the needs versus wants. I would focus on the needs. That’s what I would do. That was a question from Molly. “We’re a live performance theater, we are dark until mid-May, we are losing money for every act that doesn’t appear on stage but we feel bad asking for money when there are more urgent needs.”

Okay, I get it. I get feeling bad, okay? But we want you to survive. So you should know what you need to survive. And you can fundraise for that, okay? Like, we don’t want you to not exist anymore when this is over. So that is for you to decide, that is for you to know how much you need to raise and for you to survive and thrive. You’re welcome Louise. Oh Julie. Julie Collins from the Cascades Raptor Center joined us and it was funny because I had the screenshot of you getting to see if your donors open your video email was Julie because I sent Julie a video and every time she watched it, I was like, “Yay, I’m trending really big with the Raptors Center right now.”

So lots of really good questions. And I have a lot of these answered here. So if you are Veronica, Ingrid, Claire or Lindsey and you took the time to type in a question to Steven, just know that you are there.

So Lee asks, “I’m feeling slightly paralyzed in this situation, because all of our events have been postponed until the fall. We rely almost exclusively on peer-to-peer fundraising. What tips and advice can you provide for how I can communicate and still encourage fundraising without being tone deaf and insensitive?”

Okay. You can’t be tone deaf and you can’t be insensitive. And I would say, you’re going to have to get really creative with virtual events. You’re going to have to get really creative with virtual events. I shared the example of like the peer-to-peer contest earlier with the Phoenix Chorale and how they were, “Okay, how can we make this? That each singer picks like the song they really want to sing whether it’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” or whatever is their favorite song they’re going to sing it and they’re going to have a competition to see what we can raise the most money for Phoenix Chorale and then that’s the song that they’re going to sing. You’re just going to have to be creative.

I think the silver lining in all this is that we are going to be creative about how we communicate with people in new and inventive ways and in how we deliver our programs in new and inventive ways. And what Steven and I want you to go out there and do is love on your donors and communicate with your donors and reach out to your donors. And this is the time. They will never forget it. They will always appreciate it. I hope that is helpful to you.

Yolanda said, “Our major fundraiser is an event planned for November. How do you remind donors to buy tickets with the hope that the large group ban will be lifted?” I mean, I think it’s going to be really . . . I think it’s going to be hard to do that right now. Because I think that November, I’m going to say, November is a long way away. But I do think that it’s going to be hard because there’s so much uncertainty for where we are going to be then. I have seen a lot of stuff that’s postponed until the fall. Gina shared a link, “Washington Performing Arts turned their major gala into a virtual event in three days.” Way to go Gina, thanks for sharing that and inspiring everybody.

Okay, so I’m going to answer a couple more because I want to be sensitive. Crystal asked for a timeline example. I’m not sure what she means by a timeline. What stewardship means in this context, is . . . Okay, so I guess Louise is kind of coming from stewardship from the like angle of the congregation. So stewardship to fundraisers is, how are we being good stewards to our donors and communicating to them about the impact of their gifts and just maintaining relationships with them. That is what stewardship means in this context.

Okay, so Christie asked, “Rachel, do you agree that before we make asks, we should inquire as to how our donors are doing first? Unfortunately, some of our organizations are missing this and very important stuff, in my opinion, and are being insensitive in sending out urgent appeals not showing the human empathy. Thoughts?” This is a very interesting question, Christie. So I would say this to you, Christie. I would say that email appeal, a direct email appeal, yes.

You should send out a . . . If I look back, I think that 45% of you had given donors one update. 45% of the people in our poll at the beginning had given donors one update. So you will be smart to send something out now. I’m thinking about you. I shared the example of a subject line like, “I’m thinking about you. Dear Rachel, this has been an incredibly difficult time for all of us. You’re facing challenges you never imagined.” Show that you get it. Show that you know what their challenges are.

In this case, this was an example that I saw where they were basically giving the donor something to enjoy that was related to them as an animal organization. You can enjoy it. A wildlife organization, you can do this. So I would say it would be nice if you sent your . . . In a perfect world I would love it if you sent out some nice stewardship piece first, of course, but you could send out something really nice via email.

But if you’re in a crisis and you need to raise money, I want you to go out there and I want you to do it. I don’t want you to not do it and I don’t want you to, “Oh, we’re not going to be able to fundraise. We’ve got this urgent, urgent need. And instead, we’re just going to cut everything. We’re not going to do anything. We’re not going to give meals to these people. We’re not going to do anything because it’s going to take us a month to raise this money.” People, you’ve got to be nimble, and you’ve got to be fast. And ideally, yes, that I would like for you to send out something to show your donors that you’re thinking of them, that you appreciate them, and yes, you will have better results if you do that. But I don’t expect you to . . . I want to be realistic here that you have to move fast.

And I realize that this isn’t a matter of like you have to personally call all 500 donors on your list before you send out an email appeal. You could use a tool like BombBomb video email and you could send a video email, “I’m thinking about you.” It could be a shot of you just talking about like, how you’re thinking of them, you recognize how hard this is, and if there’s anything you can do to help, if there’s a way that you can help them with anything that they need, just offer to help them. You can put a link for them to book some time with you.

You could send something like that immediately, and then maybe your appeal hits the next day or your appeal hits two days later. That will get you better results than if you just send out the appeal first. But I don’t want you to be in the situation of like, you throw up your hands and you’re you can’t do anything. Because I want you to be empowered and be strong and get out there. So I hope that is helpful to you. Don’t overthink it, in terms of like, “Well, I’ve got to send . . . I’ve got to hand write cards to 1000 people myself, personally, before we can send out an appeal.” Don’t make it so impossible or hard. You could send an email out thanking people. But I do want your email autoresponder to be related and relatable and contemporary to what this crisis is and how we’re dealing with this now. And I showed you an example of that earlier.

Oh, Mary said, “I cried with that second example.” I think it was the second video that made her cry. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that.

Michelle Lin DeFranco asks, “Is BombBomb video email similar to ThankView?” Absolutely. It is definitely similar to ThankView. It’s just a little bit different in that it is a . . . ThankView is kind of like a paperless post and BombBomb, it’s more like a branded email stationery, but absolutely.

Let’s see. I’m making sure there’s a lot more than I have time to answer here. Tiffany asks, “How should we be encouraging our boards to support us?” This is a time of crisis. And all of your board members should be stepping up and supporting your organization in this time. I had this conversation recently with the students in my class. In a crisis like this, this could be a time where people are maybe making some decisions or you might be making some decisions around, we really need to get people to step up, and you might have some people who are saying, “I can’t be involved anymore at this time.”

Andrew asked if I recommend particular platforms to particular age groups. No, I don’t. These work for everyone. Seniors receive email. My dad sends me a reply every time I send an email to my list. He’s 82. It’s really cute. They’re really cute.

Okay, lots of great questions. Some of these are . . . There are some very, very specific questions. “We’re in the midst of a change in the executive director. There has not been an intermediate to move forward or get anything out there, do any fundraising. Our April campaign is cancelled. I’d love to get something started. Any advice on how to get the interim board on board with addressing it, let alone starting a new campaign now?”

Well, it’s really as simple as like, what are we raising money for? What happens if we don’t raise money? And how are we going to communicate our case to our donors? There’s lots of examples in here for you to help you do this. But I would say, that’s really the most important thing for you to be able to do.

Lauren asked, “Do you think it’s okay to mail an ask. We don’t have a ton of good emails. Our organization’s just beginning to build a real development program?” Absolutely. You can mail, you can email. I know that our friends . . . I don’t know if Steven has any more updated information. I know that in some countries, like I want to I saw something like on some countries, they’re seeing like less activity around just being able to mail but I’m not aware of us seeing that here in the U.S. So, absolutely, you can do direct mail. A lot of organizations who are communicating and fundraising right now in this crisis are doing a combination of email and direct mail, both. So absolutely.

Elizabeth said to that point, “I’d love to hear what your thoughts are, as to whether to send direct mail versus digital only appeals in the next month or two?” I would do both a rising tide lifts all boats. And I would say do both because you’ll have a bigger lift and a bigger response if you do both. But I do think that we are going to see as a sector a lot more online giving as we come through this crisis, because at a certain point people might run out of stamps and even if they do get your direct mail appeal, I mean, many people get a direct mail appeal and choose to give online. And I think that we will see massive, massive trends in more online gifts. I’ve gotten a lot of these. I’m going to answer one more because I want to be respective of us going over time.

Beth said, “We had launched a campaign early in the year to make a leap in revenue and hire new program staff. Should we tell our donors and sending foundation asked that we recognize that this is not the time and show how we are retooling programs during this crisis?” Okay. For each and every one of you, this is a decision for you in terms of what are we going to do? I would say, don’t cut the fundraising staff and do not stop fundraising. But you have to make your own appropriate programmatic decision around what programs are we moving ahead with? Are there programs that we’re canceling? Are there programs that we’re modifying and what do we need to raise money for?

This isn’t just like a total free for all. These are strategic decisions that you’re making as an organization based on how you’re able to serve your clients now, and how you’re able to fundraise now, so you have to make those decisions for yourself.

I don’t know, based on what you’ve said, Beth, in terms of the campaign that you did, to hire new programs. I don’t know how this crisis is impacting this campaign or what you were doing, and that staff member, but it’s a decision for you to make in terms of, “Can this program continue in this crisis? Is it appropriate for this program to continue in this crisis?” Maybe the answer is, “This program has never been more needed. And we absolutely must do this.” It’s really up to you to know.

So Crystal asks, “How many appeals are recommended in a given month or over a three-month period?” I would say, this isn’t like a one-size fits all. And I would also say that like, kind of also, everything’s changed, like our whole world has changed really, really quickly. So the organizations that are impacted by this, the organizations who are moving fast on this are going to see responses and those organizations are sending appeals frequently, and they are sending appeals on like a weekly basis. And they are sending a combination of email appeals and direct mail appeals and they are moving forward and they are going to continue to fundraise and let their data inform their decisions in terms of when it is no longer working.

So I would say time is of the essence right now. And the sooner you communicate your need to your donors, and invite your donors to help you in supporting that need, the more success that you’re going to see as time moves forward. And as we move ahead, there’ll be more and more fundraising and more and more potential . . . I’m not an economist and I’m not a psychic, so I don’t know what all is going to happen. But I would say, time is of the essence. If you have an urgent need that you want to communicate to your donors, this is your time to do so. Okay, so we went like 20 minutes over.

Steven: That’s okay. We’re having fun. This is awesome.

Rachel: We’re having fun.

Steven: I’m having fun. I don’t want to speak for everyone.

Rachel: So I’ll take a couple more because I do have another meeting that I have to go to. But someone typed in and said, “What is the best day of the week or time of day to send an e-blast? Open up your file, open up your account and look, whatever you’re using, whether you’re using Bloomerang or you’re using like ActiveCampaign or you’re using MailChimp, you can look and see when you get your highest opens, when you get your best open rate. You know it from your own data. Steven, I could do a whole webinar on like just looking at data and letting your data . . .

Steven: And have.

Rachel: Absolutely. So this is an interesting one. This is an interesting one from Eva. “Do you have any recommendations for memorializing donors or constituents who have passed away from the virus?” I feel like this is all so fresh. I certainly don’t have any examples of that. I don’t have any examples of that, but, of course . . . My goodness. I mean, if you were doing . . . I mean, if someone was named, I guess, Eva, am I right that what you’re talking about is someone naming your organization, when this person passes away that they can make gifts to you in memory of them? Am I correct in understanding if that’s what you’re asking?

I mean, I would just say that you need to be, as with any thank you, you need to be especially cognizant of any gift that is made. In a bereavement thank you, it is, “We’re so touched and we’re so honored and we want to especially thank you in this time of sadness and grief that you were so generous to make such a kind contribution to us.” So that’s something that you are definitely going to need to be honoring in your thank you. I’m not sure if I . . . I hope I answered that correctly.

Oh, great. So Tricia Ambler shared that there’s a group in New York City who had a staff person die from the virus. They did a beautiful online tribute to him. It was Sheltering Arms. So that is awesome.

Okay, I’ve got it. I’ve got to answer this from Carrie. Oh my goodness. “We have an annual campaign piece that’s ready to go out in the mail but it does not address the pandemic at all. Should we still send it?” Carrie, you can tell me if this pandemic impacts your organization, but you would sound tone deaf if you did not. You would sound completely tone deaf.

The greatest gift we can give our donors is the gift of being known by us. And think about communication that you get that doesn’t acknowledge that we’re in a whole new reality. I mean, you feel like, “What is this? Is this meant for me? Did they maybe send me this a long time ago?” One of the main things that I want you guys all to do in this is you need to revisit your campaigns and you, this is the elephant in the room, and you absolutely have to acknowledge it. You’re not being like a Debbie Downer to acknowledge it. You’re letting your donors feel known by you and seen by you and appreciated by you because their life has changed a lot.

Steven: I wonder if Carrie could do a quick email to everyone maybe right away now. And then let the direct mail piece hit the mailboxes as planned, maybe like head it off with a pass of an email. [inaudible 01:19:05].

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. If she can’t make changes in terms of that, absolutely. You bet. You bet. Awesome. Okay. I hope you guys have found this helpful. I love getting to be with you. It’s been amazing. I’m going to do my best to answer anything that I didn’t get to answer in a blog post. And I’m going to send you guys everything. This recording should be up soon. And I’m going to send you a link too. I’m going to send you an email that’s going to have a link to all of the videos. It’s going to have a link to the slides as well and you can grab those there. That’s my contact information. I love getting to be with you. I hope that you found this inspiring and uplifting. Thank you for spending your time with me and your time with Steven and you’re doing important work in the world and we want to see you succeed. Be brave and be fearless.

Steven: This is awesome, Rachel. We owe you a thanks as well for not only doing the short notice but answering questions for an extra half hour, which is awesome. Main takeaways for me were, don’t stop. You know, this isn’t the time to be sheepish. I think if you’re hearing that from your board, they’re wrong. Have them call me. I’ve been doing these webinars the last two weeks, I’ve had guests on like Rachel every day. And that’s been the one piece of advice that everyone has said is, this is not the time to stop. In fact, this is kind of the time to put the pedal to the metal.

And then the other thing I heard from you, Rachel, which was so uplifting is like you all matter, you’re all essential. Even if you think you’re non-essential. Like the library, my YMCA, you know, the animal shelters, you’re all important and the people who were visiting you and donating to you, they thought you were important before this and I’m guessing they still think you’re important.

Rachel: Yeah, they love you and they want you to be okay. And they’re thinking, “Well, how are they doing over there?” For those of you that haven’t updated them, your donors want to know that you’re okay. And you have an opportunity to show that you care and check in with your donors and make sure they’re okay.

Steven: That’s it. This is awesome. Rachel, thanks for doing this.

Rachel: It’s my pleasure.

Steven: And thanks to all of you for hanging out on a Friday. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon. So I really appreciate all you guys hanging out with us. Reach out to Rachel, I’m going to get her all the questions. I know we didn’t get to all the questions. But we’re going to get those in her hand that way you can be reaching out.

So I’m going to just let you all know the next thing we got going on. We got a webinar on Tuesday talking about multi-channel marketing, so this is along the same line. So if you’re reaching out by email, social media, text, video, all the things we talked about, she’s going to kind of break it down for you. So 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. Totally free, love to see you again. And we got lots of more webinars coming up. You’ll see on our schedule. So, hopefully, we’ll see you again on another session.

So we’ll call it a day there. Thanks again for hanging out. Just look for an email from both of us. We’ll send you all this stuff. Don’t worry, we’ll get in your hands today. And hopefully see you again next time. So stay safe, stay sane if you’re indoors. And, you know, we’re all thinking about you. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. We’ll talk again soon.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.