3 Ways to Keep Up Donor Relationships During COVID-19

You already know that the worldwide pandemic has disrupted every aspect of daily life for individuals, for-profit businesses, and charitable organizations alike. Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are struggling to adjust their fundraising strategies and donor communications in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic. 

While some organizations have halted their fundraising efforts altogether, this can be a dangerous strategy! Don’t put your nonprofit at risk for insufficient funding now and in the future by following suit 

At Qgiv, enabling donor retention is of utmost importance because we know that building strong relationships with existing supporters is significantly more cost-efficient than securing brand new donors down the line. This is more true than ever in a difficult and uncertain economic climate!

Even if your donors have had to press pause on their monetary support for the time being, it’s crucial that you continue to emphasize the importance of their relationship with your organization. This way, you can better ensure that a significant amount of your donors will resume their support as soon as their financial situations begin to stabilize. 

Really, it’s always a good idea to let your donors know how much they mean to you. It’s just extra important now! In the wake of COVID-19, here are three top strategies for maintaining those crucial relations:

  • Online fundraising
  • Non-monetary support
  • Donor appreciation

Are you ready to start building and growing your donor relationships with these best practices? These tips will benefit your donors, your nonprofit team, your constituents, and your overall community. Let’s jump in.

Keep Up Donor Relationships During COVID-19 Online Fundraising

Harness the power of online fundraising

Not everyone was significantly impacted by the pandemic, and some of your donors will want to continue their financial support of your mission. However, your in-person fundraising events have likely been postponed indefinitely, threatening some of your usual revenue streams. This is true for tons of other nonprofits, too!

As a result, new online fundraising tactics are completely transforming the way that organizations relate to and receive funding from their key supporters. Your own organization has probably begun to take part in this phenomenon as well. 

While many current virtual fundraising campaigns  use the tried-and-true best practices from your pre-COVID campaigns, it’s a good idea to take a look at some of the powerful ways that the internet can bring your organization to the next level. Here are just a few of our favorite online fundraisers to consider:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraiser: A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign involves asking highly-engaged donors and volunteers to raise money on your behalf. This highly-social fundraising method harnesses the power of social proof to expand your donor network, raise more funds, and strengthen existing relationships. When top supporters agree to fundraise on your behalf, their own families and friends are more likely to get involved as well. To get started, check out this list of top peer-to-peer fundraising platforms to find a powerful tool that will work for your organization.
  • Online auction: An online auction is one of the most engaging virtual fundraisers a nonprofit can host! When you collect valuable items that your audience will love, you can bring in thousands of dollars in revenue and your donors get a neat memento or experience. Plus, you can choose between a virtual live auction (with a live-streaming element) and a silent auction (where participants can place bids online anonymously).
  • 24-hour campaign: A 24-hour campaign, also known as a giving day, is one of the best ways to ramp up engagement and donations through establishing a sense of urgency and sharing social proof. The most well-known of these giving days is Giving Tuesday. It’s a dedicated day of giving where thousands of organizations participate in raising money on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, although you can always organize your own day to bring in extra funding. All you need to get started is to set up an online donation page (if you don’t already have one) and select a date. Then, start promoting well before the event to share what program or project you’re raising money for and to get donors excited about helping reach your goal. 
  • Merchandise sales: Selling branded merchandise like hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and even face masks is a great way to raise money for your organization. Plus, many fundraising platforms allow you to sell items online quickly and easily so the entire process is done contact free. As an added bonus, supporters who sport your merchandise in public are essentially advertising for your cause.
  • Matching gifts drive: Matching gifts are a powerful and effective way for current and past donors alike to make a larger impact by requesting a donation match from their employers. In fact, this guide to matching gifts during COVID-19 from Double the Donation states that many employers are actually expanding their corporate giving programs in response to the current economic, health, and social crises.

Regardless of the type of fundraiser you choose to host, the most successful ones start with an effective digital strategy to bring in support. After all, you can’t expect your donors to give to these fundraisers if they’re unaware that they’re even happening. 

Keep Up Donor Relationships During COVID-19 Non-Monetary Support

Encourage non-monetary support

Because some of your donors may be experiencing unexpected financial hardships, it’s a good idea to offer ways to support your mission without having to reach into their wallets. After all, your supporters are still passionate about your cause and may be looking for a non-financial way to help. Consider these four non-monetary opportunities for support:

  1. Hold a shoe drive: A shoe drive is a unique fundraising opportunity that can raise money for your organization without requiring financial contributions from your donors. Instead, supporters are asked to donate running shoes, including gently worn, used and new pairs. Then, your team is able to trade the sneakers in for a check to the organization. Plus, what better activities are there to do in a pandemic than clean out your closet?
  1. Encourage volunteering: Depending on your organization, you may or may not be accepting in-person volunteers at the moment. Regardless, there are usually ways for supporters to join in your mission via virtual volunteer opportunities. For example, you might look for volunteers who have valuable skills and experience with things like graphic design, social media management, or writing — and recruit their help from afar. 
  1. Encourage social media sharing: Sometimes, supporting an organization can be as simple as sharing a post from a personal social media profile. If you have supporters looking for ways to get involved, encourage them to interact with and spread the word about your nonprofit online. You never know, that new exposure could very well lead to your next big donor.
  2. Ask for testimonials: When we conducted our Generational Giving Report, we discovered that many donors look for testimonials from other supporters when they research a nonprofit they may want to support. Ask past donors to share a few sentences about why they supported your mission in the past. When you share their testimonials on your website, in appeals, and on social media channels, they’re helping establish important social proof that will inspire others to give. They’re helping you raise money just by sharing their experiences!

When supporters participate in these easy engagement opportunities, you can make sure your organization remains top of mind for your donors even when they’re unable to give. Plus, they’re  great ways to form new relationships, boost your nonprofit’s visibility, and raise money in unique ways.

Keep Up Donor Relationships During COVID-19 Donor Appreciation

Show your appreciation for current and past gifts

Without the generous contributions of individual donors, you’d struggle to stay open. Your donors are the most valuable asset to your organization! Now, more than ever before, it’s important that you are constantly showing your appreciation for current and past donors’ contributions. As such, here are three easy ways you can say “thank you” to your passionate and dedicated supporters:

  • Phone call: Just because face-to-face interactions must be kept to a minimum, doesn’t mean you should neglect conversations with your donors. Instead, try calling these individuals to show them that you appreciate their support enough to take the time to speak with them one on one. When you do call them, be sure to ask them how they’re holding up and see if there’s anything you can do to support them. If you want an even more personal experience, try setting up a time to talk to them over Zoom!
  • Handwritten letter: A handwritten thank-you note shows donors that you are truly grateful for their support. It’s more personal and touching than an email because each letter takes time to write, stamp, and mail. Plus, a letter can be a physical reminder of your organization to keep them thinking about your cause for longer.
  • Event: Consider hosting an event (a virtual one, of course) to encourage donor engagement and to show that you care. This might be an exclusive opportunity for past supporters, or an open invitation for all with a special benefit for your donors—such as free admission or public acknowledgement.

While you should certainly take this time to thank all donors who have given in the past, it’s also a great opportunity to acknowledge any donors who have offered their continuous support through these difficult times. These supporters went above and beyond for your mission. For all you know, each gift could be a larger financial sacrifice than before, so you should be sure to treat it like one.


When you make it a habit to stay in contact with your supporters — even when they’re unable to give — you can show them that your relationship goes deeper than their wallets. 2020 has been a difficult year for many people, but offering new ways to get involved and strategically communicating your appreciation are important ways to offset some of that damage. Good luck!

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