How to Get Your Nonprofit Ready for a Post-COVID World

June 4, 2020 Brian Isaac

The impact that COVID-19 has had on the nonprofit sector can't be overstated: charities in Australia have annual revenue of $155 billion, and with many of these organisations now labelled as "high-risk," there are some big decisions to make in the coming months.

Here are a few early trends, opportunities, and threats to watch for as we walk together into a post-COVID-19 fundraising world.

Stay positive and use your resources

While Australians have responded generously to both the bushfires and the pandemic, many families will understandably look to tighten up home budgets, especially in cases of job loss and an uncertain future.

A report from JBWere predicts a downward trend in donations across Australia, with giving in 2021 set to fall by more than 18% compared to 2019.

COVID-19 is still very much a concern and affecting people around the world, our current situation is slowly morphing into the long road toward recovery.

For this reason, it’s more important than ever to ensure your organisation remains receptive, agile, and vigilant to ensure you're best prepared for the future.

While we may not be able to rely on donors giving as generously as they have in past years, it's especially important to use the helpful resources available to help those who care about your cause make the biggest impact possible.

  • Access COVID-19 industry resources. COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for every person and every industry, including the social good community. We've compiled a list of resources to address some of the unique concerns facing the social good community and empower you to deal with this situation while continuing to support your critical mission.
  • Try fundraising virtually. Virtual Fundraising connects your supporters through a fun and unique fundraising challenge, regardless of their ability or where they're based.

Learn how Ronald McDonald House Charities New Zealand finds success each year with House to House, its virtual event empowering supporters to contribute to a specific and meaningful goal at their own pace.

Share the Spirit of Fundraising

We’ve seen many examples of organisations who have successfully changed the way they fundraise, connect with their donor base, or provide their services. The sector has really proven just how quick it is to innovate and bounce back. The spirit of fundraising is alive and well, and we love hearing all these Good News Stories.

To celebrate the #SpiritOfFundraising, we teamed up with Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) and Fundraising Institute New Zealand (FINZ) to give organisations the opportunity to show the industry how they've created impactful appeals, pivoted to virtual events, or just made a tiny difference in the world in the past few months.

For a dose of positive inspiration, see all of the amazing Good News Stories submitted by organisations across the region on our Spirit of Fundraising Hub ❤️


Be transparent with your supporters

Everyone's struggling to some degree, including your supporters. If your organisation is going through a rough time, let your supporters know. They want to support you as much as you want to do your best work for those you serve.

For this reason, it's extremely helpful when donors know the exact impact they're making, especially in times of uncertainty.

Donors could be spending their money anywhere, and it's up to you to show them why they should give to your organisation.

Dollar handles are critical when asking for donations. Getting specific with where the money's going makes the support even more real.

Using phrases like, "$150 helps an SCPA inspector rescue an animal" and "$250 helps give an animal a warm bed for a week" can make or break the decision for someone to give.

See a great example of this on SPCA's Great NZ Paws Walk website.


Be a leader in the 're-opening of society'

You've probably felt the effects of lockdown, especially if in-person events formed a key part of your fundraising strategy.

Navigating the absence of some of your central events will have been incredibly tough. But as we've learned, it’s important to be able to roll with uncertainty rather than rely 100% on a scheduled calendar.

As the world begins to open up, people are excited to meet again, and this means that you can use relaxed restrictions to your benefit.

Many organisations are transitioning their major in-person fundraising events to virtual fundraising events.

Others are experimenting taking their fundraising virtual for the very first time.

Regardless, it's important to cater to the re-opening society and your supporters looking to get involved after what's possibly been a very long time.

If you're willing to run something new and creative, your organisation stands to benefit greatly with your current supporters, and attract new ones along the way.


Leverage the future of fundraising media

For many years, we’ve been saying that the future of fundraising is digital… but COVID-19 has accelerated that change at a rapid pace.

And while direct mail is far from dead, this is an excellent time for organisations to embrace our society’s increased comfort with the online world.

The most successful organisations are the most flexible. That is, those using Virtual Fundraising Events, email marketing, and social media to generate donations regardless of where their supporters are.

And as we increasingly look to bring younger generations into our supporter bases, the signs are becoming clearer: people don't simply want to hear your story. They want to see the difference you're making.

The future of fundraising is video. So how can you as an organisation learn to tell your stories visually and make video content a key part of your integrated appeal strategy?

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia tell their fundraising success story via video

One organisation accelerating into video is PLAN International: the front page of their COVID-19 appeal tells their story concisely and effectively in an embedded YouTube video.

Soon, we predict this will be the minimum requirement when it comes to reaching new audiences in a world already saturated with digital communications, especially into 2021 and beyond.



As a fundraising community, we’ve learned the value of coming together in hard times.

We encourage you to use these opportunities to form your deepest connections yet with your supporters in the post-COVID world, and they will be forever grateful.


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