Communicating with your Partners

Apr 14, 2020

While we pray for safety, health and healing around the world, we want to share our thoughts on what fundraising might look like during this time.  We acknowledge that each of us is going to be affected in different ways, so this series is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution.  Instead, please ask for and seek wisdom and guidance as you consider how to apply this within your specific context.

By Debby Wisham, Corrie McKee and Haley Jones

In this time when normal schedules are turned upside down, it can be incredibly difficult to find routine and motivation in fundraising.  Accountability is naturally decreased because you aren’t seeing people in person. If you think intentionally, however, you can use this time wisely to improve fundraising processes, rethink strategies, and reach out to partners creatively. 

This may also be a unique window of opportunity to connect with partners. Before the pandemic, many partners were so busy they were rarely at home. Now, they may be more available and have less on their schedule than ever before. Think of this as a blocked-off schedule for you to finally get in touch with partners. 

Beth Hicks, with the organization NonProfits Get Connected, reminds us to look at this crisis as an opportunity. She gives some good pointers on communicating with partners during the pandemic:

  1. Keep your message mission-driven.

    In this time of the extraneous being stripped away, people are thinking about what really matters; it can be a perfect time to refocus yourself and your partners on your organization's mission statement. Go back to that vision and review how the work you’ve done so far has accomplished this mission. Write a newsletter or email based on this mission statement, giving examples from the past year (or more) showing your ministry’s fruit. Especially if you are in a time of genuine financial need, your fundraising must be fueled by vision.

  2. Reach out with empathy.

    Before you share about yourself or your mission, remember that many of your partners are hurting. Perhaps they are fearful and anxious; perhaps they are sick; or, perhaps, they have lost someone they love. Remember the power of empathy in creating bonds of friendship - which is a large goal of partnership. For more on this, read our post Ministering to your Partners during COVID-19.

  3. Let your partners know you are grateful for them.

    If you’ve been in the field for a while, this is a great time to “look back” and show your partners a snapshot of what they have helped you accomplish (through God’s empowerment) over the years. Explain that you couldn’t do this without them, and they are integral to your mission. It might help to give specific numbers, for example: Bibles distributed, Good News conversations, new believers, small groups started, churches planted, conferences attended, etc.

  4. Be honest.

    Your partners want to hear from you about your ministry, but they also want to hear about how you are personally. They want to know if you’ve experienced sickness, loneliness or homesickness (even if “home” is very relative for you!). Has the pandemic been hard on you and your family? What sacrifices have you had to make as a person in full-time ministry? How are you and your organization coping with the new changes yet still reaching out to those you went to serve? What are your future plans, or are they still very unsure? Don’t be afraid to be honest in your communications; this will help you connect more deeply with your partners.

  5. Keep communicating.

    No one knows how long COVID-19 is going to last. Be careful not to do a major information blast at the beginning and then fade away. Keep the momentum going. Keep your communications regular (even if short), give updates on changes to your ministry, and stay at the forefront of your partners’ thoughts and prayers.

  6. Make fundraising appropriate to this new reality.

    Fundraising might look a lot different in this new normal, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. For more on this idea, stay tuned for an upcoming post: Raising Support During COVID-19 - Part One.

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