Raising money remotely: Chicago exec Thomas Kane highlights ways to show support

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Like many organizations around the country, the nonprofit community is facing an uncertain future. Fundraising professionals and development officers are canceling events as the spread of the coronavirus continues to impact the United States.

With yearly galas cancelled and nonprofits forced to postpone meetings with donors, suffice to say, COVID-19 has completely thrown a wrench on fundraising efforts and the traditional methods nonprofit professionals have grown accustomed to.  Now, while required to raise funds in the era of social distancing, fundraising professionals must find ways to think outside of the box.

If there’s a silver lining in this situation, it’s that it is entirely possible to reach your nonprofit’s fundraising goals online.

“People will completely understand if you have to change the format of your events or communicate with them in a new way,” explains Thomas Kane, a wealth manager in Chicago.

Chicago’s Tom Kane, who advocates for the Illinois chapter of Friends of the IDF (FIDF), says the organization will be holding a virtual event this September.  Under normal circumstances, FIDF hosts a wide range of events to raise money, including Bourbon & BBQ, Women’s Brigade Annual Benefit, Yom Ha’atzmaut and the Paratroopers Delegation community celebrations, as well as missions to Israel.

“Typically, the Annual Dinner attracts over 800 people and raises more than $2MM. This year, due to COVID-19, A Night of Heroes will be held virtually on September 13 at 7pm EST from coast to coast. The FIDF National Virtual Gala presents us with an exciting opportunity to gather with fellow FIDF supporters across the country,” says Kane.

Meanwhile, most of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s 58 PurpleStride Walk events take place in the spring. In early March, the organization decided it needed to move quickly to transition each of its spring events into virtual walks. Through virtual forums and town halls, the organization is working to ensure that stewardship is at the center of its effort.

Whether your organization is holding a virtual run, walk or hike or a live-streamed event, there are many ways that can help your organization keep revenue flowing while complying with the need to keep physical distance.  At the same time, holding a virtual fundraising event can have its perks.

For one, there may be less work involved.

Most fundraising professionals are used to the hustle and bustle of organizing large galas or having volunteers go door-to-door to collect donations.  These methods require a lot of behind-the-scenes involvement, such as planning, organizing, managing schedules, and a myriad of other tasks.  Virtual fundraising relies heavily on technology, which does involve a bit of work upfront to get things set up, but the rest is usually handled by the technology you choose to work with.

It can also be cheaper to go virtual.

You don’t need to book a large venue, hire a caterer, or pay for marketing material. In all actuality, hosting a virtual event will save your nonprofit money, which can be set aside in the coffer for future use.

Most importantly, raising money virtually is less likely to restrict your reach.

With online fundraising, social distancing doesn’t exist so you can spread the word about your cause all across the globe if you need to.  In fact, through their social media channels, nonprofits can reach potential supporters who live way beyond the local community.

From a nonprofit fundraising perspective, this current stage in time can feel uneasy, especially when so many organizations receive significant portions of their annual revenues from big events.  Since the pandemic is changing norms across a broad perspective, so many of these online fundraising strategies may even remain prevalent even after the crisis is over.

Story by Russell Reed


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