Five ways to prepare a charity for life after COVID-19 2 weeks ago

For many, it currently feels like the charity sector has recently ground to a halt.

With community fundraising strictly off limits and donors becoming more discerning with their luxury spending, 2019-2020 budgets are anything but on target.

The good news among the disruption is that many charities have now been given the period of downtime that they’d longed for.

Of course, current events are far from ideal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look for the small silver linings that have evolved from recent government restrictions.

While there’s currently no date for when this current season will end, one thing we know for certain is that at some stage, life will return to some form of normal. And, when it does, charities need to be prepared to hit the ground running.

At SupporterHub, we’ve been strongly urging our charity partners to use any period of downtime as a time to prepare for the future. To make sure that when life is ready to adopt a new normal, systems and processes are more suitable than ever to give the best possible chance to increase income and improve fundraising outcomes quickly.

Here are our five recommendations for how a charity can prepare for life after COVID-19, starting today.

  • Research new systems and procedures

In a busy fundraising department, implementing new systems and databases is often something that gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. While introducing more sophisticated systems with greater capacity will ultimately increase revenue and fundraising outcomes, any potential downtime involved in disrupting day-to-day operations can be a deterrent.

This is the perfect time to review systems and connect with program owners to research how you can increase efficiencies by upgrading to a  more sophisticated donor database, marketing platform or even accounting system. Investigating new platforms during enforced downtime will provide the space and clarity to identify and areas for improvement without disrupting everyday tasks.

At SupporterHub, we’re encouraging everyone to use this time to better prepare from a technological perspective, so we’ve extended our free trial period to help charities decide whether our fully integrated system suits their needs. You can upload test data, explore the functionality and identify how it integrates with existing IT infrastructure.

  • Engage with donors

Regardless of the charity’s mission and current impact on operations, donor engagement must be consistent throughout this time. Your donors understand that it may not be business as usual, but you can’t expect to continue fundraising if you fail to engage donors during this time. Continue making phone calls, arrange face-to-face meetings using video technology and connect with your email database exactly as you would at any other time of the year. Maintaining engagement will strengthen relationships so when it’s time to resume fundraising activities, it’s business as usual.

  • Make plans for a socially distant future

It’s looking increasingly likely that social distancing is going to be an essential part of the immediate future. While this is a small price to pay for the world returning to normal, it’s likely going to involve some education and, of course, a change in procedures.

Use this time to document and implement social distancing measures that will allow you to operate as close to normal with little disruption. This will include all operational and fundraising areas from face-to-face fundraising to community events, office staff and the volunteer program.

We don’t know when community fundraising will return to normal and exactly what the restrictions will be but using this time to plan for a socially distant future will help you the charity resume business as usual on the front foot.

  • Integrate working from home into a new staff model

It’s likely that all staff have been working from home where possible in line with federal government recommendations. While this may have initially caused a disruption, in some cases this can bring merit to a team. Perhaps staff are more productive with fewer distractions and working from home might be something you can integrate into your future. Now is the time to assess whether this could be part of a new model and identify exactly how it could work to benefit staff welfare and charity outcomes.

  • Update website

Once business returns to normal, existing and potential supporters are going to look at your website to find out how you’re operating. Use this time to make sure messaging is current and consistent with the times. This may mean making changes frequently in line with government announcements and restrictions.

While this unprecedented time may have seen a severe disruption to operations, it can also be viewed as the break in the traffic that you’d hoped for giving time to reset so you can approach fundraising smarter and harder once life returns to normal.

To find out how SupporterHub can help you better prepare your organisation from a technology perspective, enquire about our free trial today.