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Update: Flash Fundraising and Responding to COVID-19

Updated on March 11, 2020: The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The situation is rapidly evolving and affecting businesses across sectors, sizes, and borders. In the short(er) term, how and what are you communicating with your existing stakeholders? At CauseMic, we subscribe to A LOT of nonprofit email lists, text subscriptions, and social feeds. However, we’ve received very few updates regarding the impact COVID-19 is having on these organizations. Is the outbreak affecting beneficiaries, planned events, programming, etc.? How are they mitigating the risks involved and do they need our help? Here’s a great example from UNHCR:     While many organizations are likely in reactive mode, below is a blog post from 2019 that outlines the key components to responding to breaking news and using the opportunity to tell your story and raise funds to fuel your mission. If your nonprofit is somehow spared by the outbreak, even that’s worth communicating with supporters and volunteers because the conversation is dominating everything from headlines to grocery store small talk.  
Original post from 2019: Breaking news: a noteworthy event is happening in the world that directly affects your nonprofit and time is of the essence. Whether it be a natural disaster or the passing of a law, it’s important to be ready when the news cycle impacts your cause. In order to effectively capitalize on a newsworthy moment, systems need to be in place to prepare, launch, and engage. These stages are crucial to effectively communicate with your supporters when you need it most! A time-based flash fundraising campaign effectively leverages newsworthy moments to galvanize your supporters and engage new ones. It’s a significant opportunity for your nonprofit to be relevant in the news cycle and get your brand out there!  


Dropping everything at a moment’s notice to pull together a well-rounded fundraising campaign sounds like a headache waiting to happen. Prepare for these moments with your team in advance. Systems, process, and methods should be in place to capitalize in the first 24-48 hours. STEP 1: Start by determining the kind of impact you define as newsworthy for your organization. Consider the specific policies or issues that matter most. Where do you want to weigh in? STEP 2: Prepare for a two-week, multi-channel campaign. Developing your communications plan ahead of the newsworthy event helps you and your team, quickly move into action.
  • You want people to get familiar with your brand. Determine your voice, tone, ethos and style so messaging is consistent.
  • Think about your specific needs – copy and creative assets – by channel.
  • Segmentation is key – define your audiences and deliver relevant content.
  • Determine roles and responsibilities amongst your team so there’s no overlap when it comes time to press go.
STEP 3: Make sure your tech stack is up to snuff. Properly connecting with your supporters is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle, and that requires an understanding of the technology you’re leveraging to reach them.
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management → designate a place where you can collect donor info as it comes in.
  • Software and tracking should be in place ready to go


Ok, it’s all systems go! The internet is buzzing, national media mentions are abundant, and it’s time for you to take action and let the fundraising begin. Assuming you’ve already determined roles and responsibilities, get ready to divide and conquer because it’s time to execute. STEP 1: While preparation is key, it’s never obvious exactly what kind of newsworthy event your organization is preparing for. You may be prepped for a natural disaster but don’t know when or how it will hit. So, take the assets you’ve compiled and tailor it to the specific situation.
  • Modify messaging and creative accordingly.
  • Build your campaign page—either through a fundraising platform, or a landing page built into your website.
  • Build audiences or leverage existing ones and place your ads.
STEP 2: Define clearly who you’re speaking to, what you’re sharing, on which channel, and WHY. Consider why someone would be interested in this content, and how to motivate them to make a contribution. As the donations roll in, be sure to welcome new donors, demonstrate impact, and above all, give thanks!


You’ve launched your campaign and your supporters showed up to bat. First and foremost, thank your donors. This is yet another crucial piece to the puzzle. It’s important to let them know that they matter, and demonstrate impact. STEP 1: Thank you cards go a long way. Services like Handwrytten and Twilio help to send personalized thank yous at scale, so you can get back to what matters. STEP 2: Screen your donors. 
  • Run new supporters through a wealth screening to see if they are best suited as small, mid-level or major donors for the future.
  • Make sure your database is clean – No duplicates, outdated information, etc.
  • Quantify the impact of new supporters with a multi-channeled engagement strategy that demonstrates how and why their support matters.
STEP 3: Determine your next steps. Can you upgrade any of your current supporters based on their flash fundraising response?
  • Monthly giving
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Planned giving
  • In-person events

Looking to prepare a campaign with your team? Our free flash fundraising checklist will help make sure you don’t miss a piece to the puzzle.