Stewardship in the time of COVID-19

Stewardship in the time of COVID-19

Different nonprofits have handled the coronavirus pandemic in different ways. In addition to having most, if not all staff, working from home, many have had to furlough, reduce salaries and/or shift around job descriptions among the people who are still working. Times are tough and it is unclear when things will return to any semblance of normal.

But we are weeks into the pandemic and if fundraising is still on the back burner, it is time to move things around. Otherwise it will be impossible to get up and running once things turn around. And stewardship in the time of COVID-19 is a place to start.

We must acknowledge that the news is horrific. People are sick, losing their jobs, and going stir-crazy. And that doesn’t include the issues of gaining weight and drinking too much while somehow overwalking our dogs. How could a nonprofit ask for non-emergency money? Many funders are honoring their commitments. Non-galas will be all the rage this spring. And asking exactly how your major donors are faring during this time will be more important than any prospect research from the past.

In other words, nonprofits will have to find a way to connect with volunteers, members, and donors if they ever want to reopen their doors. And whether you are asking for donations or not, stewardship in the time of COVID-19 should be a priority at every organization.

What are other nonprofits doing for stewardship in the time of COVID-19?

Not counting healthcare or human services organizations and others that provide emergency services, I have seen:

  • religious organizations offer virtual spirituality, classes, and community
  • arts organizations provide access to recordings and articles, lunches with famous actors, playwrights, novelists, etc., and creative connections
  • athletic nonprofits offer classes, book groups, and workouts
  • business associations offer ways to learn from peers and virtual classes
  • other organizations offer resources such as virtual book clubs, virtual coffees and podcasts

What is the one thing they have in common?

They are reminding their supporters that they serve a purpose in our world. There are donate buttons on most emails.

Even if no one clicks through now, these organizations are making the case for their intrinsic value and are asking for support. Organizations which are afraid to remain in touch with their volunteers and donors and only resurface months from now to ask for money will not survive. Nonprofits need to maintain contact all along the #StayHome way, stewarding donors – while providing us all with a combination of programs and learning opportunities to demonstrate their value.

We will remember the plays we watched or the class we took and think of the organizations which shared them with us with a smile. And, we will want to donate to them, if and when our funds allow. Because, when we emerge from this chaos, we will need connections, and nonprofits, more than ever.