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At the time of publishing, Australia is in its fourth month of the worst bushfire season in the country's history.

The current death toll (January 2020) stands at 28, 1.25 billion animals have been wiped out, and an estimated 10.7 million hectares of land have been destroyed along with over 2000 homes.

As the nation remains gripped to the news and media, the crisis has united communities as onlookers search for ways to help.

Local businesses are running events to create awareness and raise funds. Community groups are enlisting the financial support of members to help in any way they can. Social media posts are being shared, and people are giving to their maximum capacity to relieve distress and reduce the impact of this national crisis.

Australia is currently in a state of giving, and deservedly so.

While exact numbers are hard to quantify at this early stage, charitable donations made so far in 2020 are likely to far exceed those made at the same time in previous years.

The Australian bushfire crisis of 2020 is just one example of an event that puts donors in a state of giving. National or global crisis events that generate consistent media coverage (think the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, the Queensland floods of 2011 or the Haiti earthquake of 2010) will garner the attention of the public and your donors will always rise to the task.

What does this mean for your charity?

Your donors will have been captivated by any cause that dominates the hearts and minds of the world. Access to news is instant in this digital age, and regardless of whether your mission directly relates to the crisis, there are three things you should do to acknowledge a national or global disaster and therefore connect with your donors.

1) Publicly show support

Giving to charity isn't a competition. Your donors and followers will appreciate knowing that you're getting behind relevant campaigns in any way you can.

Of course, you can't compromise your donor's gifts by making an outright cash donation to another cause but acts of encouragement that don't come at the expense of the donor must be shared.

This may be as simple as creating social media posts acknowledging the incident or sharing callouts for volunteers for local fundraisers.

The charity sector is far from competitive and addressing the situation that is at the forefront of your donor's minds will help you remain relevant to those whose support you rely on throughout the year.

2) Build credibility

When the country is in a state of giving, all charities can benefit from the public's donations.

Unfortunately, in the haste to help where possible, people can unwillingly give to charities without doing research and understanding where cash will be directed. Some may give to organisations set up with a less than honest intent.

While awareness of donations is high, make sure visitors to your website and social media channels know precisely what to expect when they donate to you.

Highlight DGR status, publish that donations over $2 are tax-deductible, and clearly outline the plans for all financial support received.

Donors are likely to ask general questions about their giving at this time, so it's vital they're answered in advance to ensure you maintain credibility.

3) Analyse data

As the whole country digs a little deeper, it could be an ideal time to remind people of the continued support required outside of the current crisis. Running a last-minute fundraising campaign focusing on your purpose and the impact even a small donation can make will help maintain this awareness when media attention is directed heavily elsewhere.

Analyse donor data and identify those who have a pattern of giving during a major crisis. This may involve research and creative thinking but running specific reports will help you come up with a strong list of prospects for the campaign.

You don't want to appear greedy, and donor fatigue must be considered to assess how an appeal integrates with your existing campaigns and current donor contact. Create a short e-appeal highlighting your plight and send to those on the database who are likely to donate.

The generosity shown during times of crisis defines Australia as a nation.

When rapid response is required, charities often have to adopt campaigns run through programs that utilise developments in technology to accelerate fundraising. These platforms are often designed in such a way that the sole focus is on fundraising to ensure interaction with the donor once the crisis is over.

The SupporterHub platform allows you to capture valuable donor information to open the lines of communication with those who helped during a time of need. This also allows you to update supporters on how their donation contributed to supporting others.

To find out about SupporterHub's FREE trial available to charities across Australia, contact us today.