Post-Crisis Communications: What’s Next?

The initial shock of the pandemic is over. We have set up emergency funds to support students in need and raised dollars for personal protective equipment. We have moved arts programming online and stepped up food deliveries. Even as we acknowledge that more uncertainty lies ahead, we recognize that urgent, pre-COVID fundraising needs still remain.

What can we do now to best position ourselves for conversations about the longer-term funding opportunities?

Straightforward communication is more important than ever.

  • Showcase how your institution has responded to the pandemic. Focus on your significant impact and how it reinforces your brand and its ongoing mission. Vanderbilt states it boldy.
  • Talk about immediate need and position longer-term opportunity. Focus on how past philanthropy is bearing fruit in this time of unprecedented need.
  • Remind donors of why they have chosen to invest in you … and why they should continue to do so. See, for example, how the Wistar Institute’s appeal introduces their Coronavirus Discovery Fund while reminding the reader how they have always led the field.

Listening is powerful stewardship.

All good partnerships start with dialogue. Ask donors what’s on their minds. If their interests have shifted with the crisis, you may have an opportunity to advance priorities that failed to resonate in the past but now conform to new interests.

Share what makes you special—with everyone.

Data from the last recession revealed smaller gift sizes but a fairly stable number of donors. Be as generous as possible in creating opportunities for engagement even when gifts scale down in size.

The National Constitution Center, for one, is not only helping families and teachers educate kids at home, but is taking advantage of a unique moment in live public Supreme Court hearings to offer post-argument analysis.

Connecting your institution’s work to the urgency of the times is a large part of making a compelling argument for your funding needs. That’s one of the many lessons we’ve learned at SteegeThomson in writing and producing hundreds of cases for support over our 35 years.

If you’d like to discuss how to make your case during this extraordinary time, please give us a call. In the meantime, be well and stay safe.


SteegeThomson Communications