Coronavirus and Fundraising – Now What?

Coronavirus and Fundraising – Now What?


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


One reader wrote me this week: Corona virus? Do all of us local and regional community-based groups continue on with our plans for spring appeals and renewals? Are we approaching (or already past) a point where major re-thinking is appropriate? If you had a 10,000-piece mailing would you send it or hold it? What about planned giving outreach calls?

And another: We are wrestling with what to tell people right now about our upcoming Gala in regards to the virus. It’s in April. People are getting invitations in the mail, and they won’t know how to proceed. We are thinking about sending out a message that shows that we are following the outbreak and will cancel if we need to, that their support is still extremely important to us, and that we will refund (or exchange for another service or a rescheduled event) their tickets. Of course, we don’t want to scare them away.


The truth is that I have very little in terms of advice, except to say that the funds won’t raise on their own. If you stop asking, if you don’t send that 10,000-piece mailing, if you cancel your Gala – you won’t raise as much money.


I like the messaging beneath the second question a lot:

  • The land trust mission remains important – even critical.
  • Our commitment to that mission is unwavering.
  • Your unwavering commitment and support ARE still important – even critical.
  • We are monitoring the situation locally and are prepared to make decisions based on guidance from the CDC and local officials.
  • At this point, we are expecting to go forward as planned.
  • Should these plans change, we will communicate our response accordingly.


So I went poking around to see what others were saying.

The news about event cancelations is generally about events drawing large numbers of people from many different geographies, particularly national and international events drawing people who need to fly to get there. Events that are more local, drawing people who can drive to get there, seem to be still planning to go forward. There is great concern about the elderly traveling, and most sites are advising that older people, and people whose health is challenged in any number of ways, stay home.

The nonprofit blog writers I looked at either have not weighed in on the subject yet, or are simply advising that we exercise appropriate caution and communicate early and often with members and donors.


I would send the mail out anyway. I would solicit event sponsors anyway. I would send out invitations anyway. And I would tell everyone how we are preparing, that we hope they will choose to come, and that we will understand if they do not.

I would also check with my insurance agent.

AND I would try to inject a little humor. Propose some sort of goofy alternative handshake, or pass around heated antiseptic towels before the hors d’oeuvre trays.


All the bloggers I read also said this: Take care of yourself, too.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you’re feeling sick, stay home.
  • Plan for remote work, if needed.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, have been in close contact with a person known to have coronavirus, or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread.


So let’s open it up. What would YOU say? Are you canceling your events?


Cheers, and have a great week!




Photo by Pexels from Pixabay



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  • Gal Potashnick
    Posted at 12:21h, 11 March

    NJ’s conference also cancelled as of yesterday. And after some discussion and a venue pulling out of hosting one of our speakers we decided to pause our speaker events for the time being.

  • Rick Newton
    Posted at 10:45h, 10 March

    A bit of local (Connecticut) info relating to gatherings: two conferences in Connecticut scheduled for next week have both postponed. (CLCC land trust conference at Wesleyan on March 20 and the CCNR & COEEA Joint Conference scheduled for March 16 at UCONN) CT’s governor recommending not holding gatherings that will have 100+ attendees. I think it was a wise, though difficult decision by both organizers, given that many conservation volunteers are retired people that the virus is especially hard on.

    • David Allen
      Posted at 11:56h, 10 March

      Thanks, Rick. I had heard that the CLCC conference was postposed (got the email today) but the CCNR conference postponement was new information for me. I understand that LTA’s SE conference in Chattanooga is still on, though registrations are way down. NY, ME, MA, and CA are all still on as far as I know.

    • David Allen
      Posted at 05:28h, 11 March

      Addendum: LTA’s SE conference has now been postponed due to health concerns.