Make the [Hunkered] Down Time Worth It.

With the whole world hunkered down for the coming weeks, what’s a nonprofit executive to do? Events are put on hold, prospect meetings rescheduled.

I don’t know about you, but I always wish for some free time to catch up on reading or projects that have been stalled. I always say that this will be the year when I will start earlier on direct response campaigns.

So now, what’s stopping you?

Here are six ideas for how to spend your quarantine time.

Check-in with your donors. There’s no time like the present to call your middle-major donors to touch base, see how they’re faring, and of course, to thank them for their support. Who knows how long this situation will last? You may need a special solicitation in the next month or two to bolster your work. Reminding donors that you are there and thinking of them is not only the right thing to do, but could help increase giving in the near future.

Keep Fundraising, Part One. While it’s true that in-person cultivation meetings are all but stopping, that’s no reason not to have contact Facetime, Skype, and Zoom are all great ways to conduct those cultivation calls or meetings with funders. The world continues, as does your valuable mission.

Keep Fundraising, Part Two. A nonprofit executive director called me the other day, wondering about his May appeal. “Should I still send it? Is that unseemly” he inquired. Those we serve still need to be served, maybe even more so. While it’s true that many workers are facing layoffs, I have to believe in the goodness of the human spirit. In good times and bad, people give.

Get Ready for the Fall. While spring still hasn’t sprung in many parts of the country, fast forward to September. Giving Tuesday and year-end solicitations are on the horizon. How often are you planning for those important campaigns at the last minute? There’s no reason not to start your planning right now. Get your team together electronically and start planning.

Do a Deep Data Dive. Speaking of campaigns, do you know what your retention rates are? Have you taken the time to study the data and set a benchmark upon which to build? Use this time to explore the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s website and download their measurement tools. It will be time well spent.

Read. Oh, what a luxury to actually catch up on reading. Blackbaud Institute recently came out with its 2019 Charitable Giving Report – geek out on the data. Over the weekend I received the brand new second edition of It’s Not Just About the Money: How to Build Authentic Donor Relationships by Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels of the Veritus Group. Frankly, I’d suggest getting totally lost in all of the great content on their website.

Make a commitment to using the downtime for self-care, good food, and productivity. You’ll feel so much better for it.

Glenn is a fundraising strategist who loves working with organizations that want to innovate and grow. Check out his website at, and to find out how he can help you, email him at You can follow him on Instagram, and Facebook. He’s also the author of the forthcoming House Party: How to Turn a Home Into a Powerful Fundraising Tool.

Photo by Fabiola Peñalba on Unsplash


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