COVID-19 Concerns in Donor Management (Session 2)

During the second session of the Donor Management Coffee Talks, we will be discussing:
  • Changes & communication in fundraising
  • Changes & communication in granting
  • How technology is your best friend

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(The comments below were pulled directly from the session’s live audio and chat feeds.)

Communication with Professional Advisors and Donors

Patti Kramlinger - Manato Area Foundation
We used to sponsor a local speaker series where we would invite accountants, financial planners, wealth bankers, and attorneys. This has since been switched to a Zoom based webinar. We’re trying to make things a little more simple, light hearted, and webinar based.
 
Michael Jones - Stonewall Community Foundation
We’ve made sure to communicate how appreciated the donated dollars are and how they are going to directly serve our communities.  Due to changing times, we haven’t been getting very much mail. It’s all been virtual. A new way to consider communicating with people would be to send them a handwritten note. It’s novel and more exciting than a typical email.
 
Nick Kulik - Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation
We’ve been diligent in getting information out about the CARES Act not only to our donors, but to our professional advisors as well. I’ve been fielding some questions about what the impacts are going to be on the above-the-line deduction and AGI. We’ve also been able to reach out by hosting a professional advisors seminar in the fall. The participants have voiced that they would like information about the CARES act to be a part of the seminar.
 
Jose Marquez - Inland Empire Community Foundation
We’ve done some outreach to professional advisors and their designated professional advisor councils. As we regularly hold meetings with these councils, we are now planning on switching these to Zoom in order to continue them. 
In our first Zoom-based council meeting, we have two attorneys that will be speaking. One will discuss the CARES act and the Secure act. The other will discuss the power of attorney and the issues surrounding that. We’ve sent out emails to our professional advisors who want to participate in future events. The state county council presidents have also received emails and have been asked if they would pass on our information to their members, which they agreed to.
 
Kitty Friedman - Park City Community Foundation
We have already done one donor webinar to keep folks updated on current events and what their money is being put toward. For our future webinars, we plan on getting first-hand stories of the impact we’ve made from the nonprofit organizations that we’ve given to. This will provide our donors with real-life examples. We’ve also launched a community response fund and we’ve seen an increase in gifts. Recently, all of our committee and board meetings have been moved to Zoom. 
 
Sarah Mcpherson - Oakville Community Foundation
First, we called every one of our fund holders to let them know what our strategies were going to be. Our conversations have revolved around the key question of “How are you doing?”. We’ve spoken with not only funders, but also with medical professionals to ensure that we are giving our dollars to the most meaningful organizations. We’ve recently given out $400,000 and are looking to give out $800,000 in future phases. 
 
Sam Mueller - Park City Community Foundation
We have asked all nonprofits who have received grants from our Community Response fund to put together a casual video of themselves showing how the money has helped them. We've then been showing these to donors. 
 
Karla Lodholz - Community Foundation of Northcentral Wisconsin
Our marketing staff has put a lot of focus on the $300,000 that’s been raised for our Covid-19 fund and where that money is going. We’ve also been keeping the media focused on the impact of the dollars and the stories we’ve received from the foundations.

Socially Distant Fundraisers

Michael Barret Jones -Stonewall Community Foundation
We have a large, $30,000 workout day fundraiser that usually occurs in May and another event that was set to be in June. These have both been pushed back until September.
 
Jennifer Brambley - Peninsula Community Foundation of Virginia
Every year we host an online giving day called Give Local 757. This year it will be in May. One of our sponsors, a local TV station, has been creating awareness for the event and how donations can be given.

Donor Matches and Help

Sarah McPherson - Oakville Community Foundation
We’ve been reaching out to some private family foundations to help leverage our local contributions. There is about to be an announcement of a $100,000 gift from a private family foundation. Along with this, we’ve been working on a public campaign donor match. A local anonymous donor has donated her years salary back to the community and is challenging other working, business professionals to do so as well.
 
Micheal Barret Jones - Stonewall Community Foundation
For the past five or six weeks, we’ve really been focusing on our emergency response fund. It is through this fund that we’ve been trying to engage donors and encourage donor matches from both existing and new donors.
 
Mike George - Toledo Community Foundation
We are calling all of our fund holders to check-in and see how they are doing. Initially, we were concerned that this might be misinterpreted as calling to solicit funds. However, it has become much more of a natural conversation and we were able to share that we’ve established a Covid-19 response fund. Many have donated to this without being directly asked to do so.
 
Laurel Shulman - Triangle Community Foundation
We’ve communicated with our fund holders mostly through email. Due to Covid-19, our May event has been canceled. Sponsors have been notified that the event isn’t happening. We’ve asked the sponsors from the event if they would be willing to donate the full amount of their sponsorship to the Triangle fund, which will be used for long term COVID-19 recovery. 
 
Sarah McPherson - Oakville Community Foundation
Professional advisors shared with leading finance advisors, lawyers, accountants what we are doing. If their clients have private foundations and have the desire to give in a more specific and direct way, we could open up the doors to this potential. There’s always a need for knowledge about the local issues and this can help with that.
 
Laurel Shulman - Triangle Community Foundation
We’ve been fielding a lot of calls for how donors can show up for nonprofits who need their support. We are trying to give them a rubric through 4 stages: rapid response, provision of services, general operating support, and then just long term recovery. We are mostly in the rapid response stage, but are encouraging our donors to look forward.

Technicnology Best Practices/Uses

Sarah McPherson - Oakville Community Foundation
All of our committee meetings have been moved to Zoom and we’ve been testing it out. We’re also using Zoom to interview some major charities to gain information that we can then send out to everyone who has contributed to the fund. We also have plans to move our contributions and way of paying charities to an electronic fund transfer. Foundant’s platforms have enabled a quick transfer and fluidity to the transaction process. Donors are very impressed by this.

Internal Engagement

Mike George - Toledo Community Foundation
We try to get everyone together on Friday’s to virtually engage in fun team activities. 
 
Sarah McPherson - Oakville Community Foundation
We’ve been using Slack to post lunch pictures in order to “eat together”. We’ve also ordered and delivered orchids to everyone and we’ve had people post weekly updates of the condition of the orchids. It’s been very fun to connect in this way.
 
Sam Mueller - Park City Community Foundation
We like to do a morning team check-in, but that is mainly operations focused. However, we’ve recently begun having a “happy hour” on Zoom at 4:00 on Fridays. We always try to have a theme with each one; fun hats, sports, two truths and a lie, etc..
 
Elly Grogan - Community Foundation of Sonoma County
We also do a weekly team check-in with themes. It’s been a nice way to humanize the situation and everyone involved.

United Way

Patty Kramlinger - Mankato Area Foundation
We’ve partnered with United Way of Mankato and have used this to leverage our success around the greater Mankato Area. We gained a lot of visibility that has helped break down old perceptions and barriers.
 
Jose Marquez - Inland Empire Community Foundation
We’ve also been partnering with United Way. We’ve been working with a number of non-profits to aid in their recovery needs. Over the years, we’ve brought together a number of organizations that are considered to be capacity builders to aid in our projects. 
 
Jennifer Smith - Community Foundation of Northern Illinois 
Similarly, we’ve been partnering with our local United Way as well as some other capacity building and community organizing groups. We’re able to look toward future recovery and stabilization. Our hope is to be more prepared for future challenges.
 

About the Author

Foundant Technologies

For more than a decade, Foundant Technologies has specialized exclusively in making philanthropy easier and more impactful through intuitive technology solutions. All of our cloud-based solutions focus on grantmaker, grantseeker, scholarship provider and community foundation needs with the goal to make day-to-day tasks streamlined and help maximize the impact of the philanthropic community.

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