No nonprofit is immune to disasters. Whether it be a fire, a natural disaster, a supply shortage, or another unforeseen circumstance, it’s important that nonprofits be able to respond quickly to continue providing the services they offer. Part of having your preparedness strategy in place is knowing how to host successful emergency fundraisers. Emergency fundraisers can be a big help when you’re facing unprecedented need at your organization. That’s why we put together this blog post to walk you through planning for and hosting an emergency fundraiser.
What is an emergency fundraiser?
An emergency fundraiser is a fundraising campaign specifically set up in response to a dire situation. This can help a nonprofit recover after a natural disaster or meet a suddenly increased need in their community.
How do you prepare for an emergency fundraiser? Check out our tips for a plan of action you can use to prepare for your next emergency fundraiser.
Write emergency fundraiser communications ahead of time
Because you never know when an emergency will occur, it helps to plan out your emergency fundraiser communications ahead of time. When it comes to an emergency fundraiser, you’re likely going to need to write appeals, donation form copy, social media posts, milestone updates, and more to communicate why you need the funds you do, why it’s urgent that your appeal is fully funded, and how those funds are going to be used to combat a crisis.
It can be hard to predict when a disaster will strike or when you’ll have a sudden urgent need, but it’s important to remain a cool head and go into fundraising mode with a communications plan rather than rushing into action without one.
Create an emergency fundraiser donation page
Once your copy is ready and you have your communications plan in place, it’s time to create the unique donation page for your emergency fundraiser. It helps to adhere to donation form best practices like keeping your form short and simple, adding your branding to the form, and adding impactful images to your form to make it appealing to those who will see and respond to your emergency fundraising appeals.
If possible, align your donation amounts with actual impact those donations will have on those you serve. What can be accomplished at each donation amount?
It’s also important to express the emergency need on your donation form as well as the urgency of the need you’re facing. Briefly explain why donations are needed and how the donated funds will be used to meet the emergency need.
Link text fundraising tools to the emergency donation page
Text fundraising is a way for your donors to give quickly, which makes it a perfect tool when it comes to emergency fundraisers. 98% of text messages are read within the first fifteen minutes of receipt. That means you can see donations to your emergency fundraiser within an hour of sending a text fundraising appeal.
To get started, create a designated keyword for the emergency appeal and share that keyword and short text code in the appeals and social posts you’re sending out to raise funds for the emergency appeal.
Your donors text the keyword to the short code assigned to your nonprofit and will be sent a link to your emergency donation form. From there, they complete their donation on their mobile device.
If you have a contact list of cell phone numbers who have opted into communication from you, you can invite them to give to your emergency appeal via outbound texts directly linking to your donation page.
Launch the emergency appeal
Once you have your communications plan in place, have created the emergency donation form, and have created a text fundraising keyword, it’s time to put your plan into action and get the word out about your emergency fundraiser.
Just because you’ve sent the emergency appeals doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Instead, you’ve got to monitor your campaign’s progress and report to those who have given about important milestones they’ve reached. It helps to communicate what you’ve accomplished at each of the milestones.
Communicate from a point of gratitude. Thank donors for supporting your progress and explain how funds are being used. It helps to ask those who have given to share your appeal with those close to them. Chances are, if your donor tells a friend about your emergency fundraiser, their friend will give to support their friend’s charity of choice.
Monitor your emergency fundraiser until you’ve reached your goal or until time has run out.
Wrap up the emergency fundraiser
When you’ve been able to successfully weather the storm, wrap up your emergency fundraiser.
Like any other appeal, fill supporters in on how much was raised and how those funds were used.
If you’re ending the fundraiser without reaching your goal, let supporters know you’re still short when you send that final update. Include a way for them to give for a last-minute push if funds are still needed.
No matter what, it’s important to close your emergency fundraiser the same as a standard appeal. Your supporters are going to want to know the total raised and how those donations will help. Be sure to plan for post-event communications when developing your communications plan for the emergency fundraiser.
We hope that with these tips your nonprofit organization is better prepared for emergency fundraisers. Expecting the unexpected and responding quickly can make a world of difference when it comes to getting your emergency needs funded. By preparing your appeals ahead of time, creating a unique donation form for the fundraiser, and incorporating text fundraising as an easy way for supporters to act quickly on your appeal, you’ll find more success with your emergency fundraisers.
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