Coronavirus and Fundraising – Cuban Advice

Coronavirus and Fundraising – Cuban Advice


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


First off, I hope that you, your family, and everyone in your orbit is well and stays that way. Hunker down, wash your hands, stay six feet away from others. Stay home and stay well.


Mark Cuban – featured Shark Tank investor, Dallas Mavericks (basketball team) owner, and eternal optimist – was recently interviewed on an internet program called “Ask Mark Anything.” During the session, he offered his tips for businesses to survive the pandemic and even position themselves to grow when things settle down again.

I thought it would be interesting to take what he said and apply it to the land trust community of the nonprofit world. Here was Cuban’s advice with my annotations:


Tackle Your To-Do List

There was an old prioritizing matrix that pitched IMPORTANT along one axis and URGENT along the other. The resulting boxes contained parts of your to-do list that were both important and urgent, neither important nor urgent, urgent but NOT important, and important but not urgent.

Cuban’s point was that now is a good time to tackle those things on your list that you might not get to when everything is running at full speed.

The Important-But-Not-Urgent box.

Cuban mentioned updating your website, boosting your online presence, and creating new content for your social media. I would double down on his recommendation for updating your website. Change your photos. Post new content. Scrub up the pieces that aren’t quite perfect.

When else will you find the time?

To his list, I would add organizational Strategic Planning and deep analysis of your fundraising programs.

  • How much you will need to be raising five years from now? If you keep doing what you have been, will you get there?
  • What is your return on investment for each of your fundraising strategies? What about overall? What should be added? What could be jettisoned?
  • How are your metrics trending?


You have the time right now. Why not use some of it to gain a deeper understanding of where you’ve been and lay the groundwork for understanding how to move forward?


Don’t Neglect Advertising and Marketing

Cuban said that one of the ways to stand out is stay visible when others aren’t. This applies equally well for nonprofit land trusts.

It’s Spring! The birds are back, the wildflowers are in bloom, and the air is fresh. The Land has always been the best advocate for our work, and now is no exception. Use it.

  • Provide social media space for people to post what they’ve seen.
  • Host Zoom happy hours for people to chat about what’s going on out on the land and/or ask questions about what they’ve seen.
  • Invest in web cams near nests or dens, or trail counters with real time results posted online.


In other words, tap into people’s curiosity, encourage sharing, and brand everything with your own land trust messaging. It will be worthwhile regardless, but even more so when other nonprofits are withdrawing.


Keep up Communication

Cuban encourages findings ways to connect with customers, business partners, and everyone else in your orbit. “When you’re in circumstances like this, even in a business relationship, just saying ‘Hi’ is being nice,” says Cuban.

This is also what I’ve been saying for weeks:

“Your mother needs to hear from you. Your friends need to hear from you. Your colleagues and coworkers need to hear from you. Your Board members need to hear from you. Your donors need to hear from you as well. Tell them that you’re OK. Tell them whatever remains as some semblance of normal. Tell them what’s changed. Tell them that the mission is still relevant and that your commitment to it is unwavering. Tell them that they are needed.”

Think about it this way: when the time comes that we can say this pandemic is behind us, you don’t want to be the organization that people didn’t hear from.


It feels to me like we’re beginning to turn a corner here. The first wave is passing. We won’t fully return until there is wide-spread testing available and a vaccine, and we’ve won’t ever return to the “normal” we understood in December and January. But we WILL get through this – come out the other side. The land trust community (explicitly including donors and volunteers!) and even the larger nonprofit community are part of the new normal that is being forged right now. We are part of the solution.


So – “Hi.”

How are YOU doing? How are you coping? Are your spirits up?


Cheers, and be well!




Photo by Adina Voicu from Pixabay


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  • Kimberly Gleffe
    Posted at 15:30h, 28 April

    I actually think growth right now isn’t a great idea… it’s not sustainable… my hope is that this pandemic will lead to policy changes that will balance and level out the “playing field”….

    • David Allen
      Posted at 15:44h, 28 April

      OK. And I agree about the growth. But to be fair to Cuban, he was not talking about growing NOW as much as he was talking about surviving now and positioning businesses (and conservation groups) to grow “when things settle down again.”

  • Colleen
    Posted at 09:50h, 28 April

    Hi David–great advice regarding positioning ourselves to grow! In addition to offering educational YouTubes, personal postcards to donors of what is blooming on the property, and updating website–also working on a “Re-Opening” plan–and hope we can implement in mid-May. Stay well-Colleen