By Drew Fox Jordan • March 16, 2020

How Can We Maintain a High-Touch Donor Environment Through a Crisis?

No nonprofit wants to be on the wrong side of history during a crisis. Whether it was September 11th, the great recession in 2008, or now the coronavirus outbreak that has spread throughout the entire world. When policies are put into place that limit the operations of an organization, leaders must be careful that the choices they make are not only in the best interests of the employees, but those impacted by the work of the organizations itself.


With organizations shutting down parts of their operations during this outbreak, more pressure is placed on advancement offices to come up with funding. Gift officers cannot be left wondering how they will be impacted until it is too late. Fundraising, by nature, is a fundamentally human practice. Nothing will ever be able to replace meeting a donor in a coffee shop, or taking a prospect out to dinner. So in times of crisis when organizations are seeing other sources of revenue halted or donors rescinding a pledged gift, a fundraiser’s job not only becomes more difficult, but also essential.

Being able to adapt during crises and take action is crucial. Some organizations, like hospitals, will be directly affected as they’ll likely see an influx of patients and need to find ways to meet staffing demands. Many colleges and universities are looking to donors for fill the revenue gap from refunding room and board or tuition. Other nonprofits, especially those that directly serve the elderly, will suddenly need to balance how they deliver services while practicing healthy social distancing. And, nonprofits that are revenue-dependent upon events, travel, and gatherings will have to reevaluate entire business models. Resources are more critical today than they were yesterday.


Ultimately, the answer to these questions is fundraising. In a time of crisis, how can nonprofits adapt to the challenges of the current moment and keep their core missions alive? Here are 5 tips for critical fundraising during a time of crisis:

  1. Now is the time for high touch. For the most part, we will all be working from home, which means lots of canceled meetings. Donors will be paying more attention to the causes that matter most to them. Consider where you can be more “high-touch” with your donors and supporters and reach out.
  2. Try leaning into technology to create personalized touches. Reaching more donors will take more time, so ensure that they are equipped to engage with as many donors as possible with relevant messaging by adopting new tech tools.
  3. Don’t forget about low-tech! How much more personal does it feel when you receive a handwritten letter from someone? You might consider slowing things down and adding a personal touch with some good old-fashioned snail mail.
  4. You can always buy someone a cup of coffee. If you are going to miss a meeting because of a travel ban or discomfort to meet in public, take the money you would have spent on their coffee, drink, lunch, or dinner and send a virtual gift card to treat them anyway.
  5. Never forget the core mission. Now is a great time to remind your donors about the impact that your organization makes. Explain how the crisis is impacting your organization and how you are adapting. This enables you to make an appeal that’s not only personal but timely, as well.


Maintaining a high-touch environment with donors becomes essential for advancement offices when fundraising is critical for keeping the lights on. Although, it is still possible to give supporters a fully personalized experience even if taking them out to dinner isn’t an option. In the midst of a crisis, your fundraising operations can’t afford to come to a halt.

Being able to add additional revenue in a time of crisis is a must for nonprofits. But when traditional touchpoints aren’t possible, fundraisers must find news ways to reach patrons to let them know that even in times of chaos, their support is appreciated.

If you’d like to discuss strategies for engaging donors in these difficult times, the Gravyty team is here to help. Please contact us here.


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