Fundraising after a disaster is something for which all nonprofits should be prepared. Nearly every disaster is followed by a huge outpouring of help and financial support, and it’s easy for charities to get overwhelmed. Unfortunately, concerns about illegitimate charities and scams often overshadow nonprofits’ efforts to raise money for aid and recovery. Before you set up any fundraising efforts after a major tragedy, here are some important steps you should take to help you accomplish your goals:
1. Be Prepared
Disasters can occur any time, anywhere. You can prepare yourself in advance by making sure you already have a plan for raising money and getting aid to affected people as quickly as possible. Having such a plan is a win/ win situation: it helps disaster victims quickly and effectively and will make people more comfortable with donating to you in the future.
2. Let Donors Know They Can Trust You
After a major disaster, fundraising efforts seem to be accompanied by warnings about how to spot phony charities and scams. Give your donors peace of mind by firmly establishing your legitimacy right from the start. You can do so by giving them easy access to documents like your 501(c)(3), state registration, and tax exempt status. If you’re associated with well-known organizations or public figures, ask them to vouch for you as well. The more you work at establishing legitimacy, the more comfortable people will be with donating to you.
3. Focus On Transparency and Accountability
Keep you donors assured of your legitimacy by being transparent during fundraising and long after you’re finished. Show people what you’re doing with the money they donated, give them access to documents that show where that money went, etc. Whatever you do, put showing the public how you raise money and what you do with it at the top of your priority list.
4. Think About Timing
Timing can be difficult when it comes to fundraising after a disaster. Nonprofits are stuck: do they start fundraising early and risk looking like opportunists? Or do they wait and risk missing valuable support? There’s no easy answer to this touchy problem. The best thing you can do is to use discretion and start fundraising as soon as you know you can make a difference.
5. Be Careful With Social Media
Social media is a great way to communicate with your supporters and keep people updated about current events. But be keenly aware of how you’re presenting yourself on social media channels; misusing a sensitive hashtag or publishing scheduled posts can make you look insensitive, opportunistic, or oblivious. Disable automated posts, be careful when using hashtags and, when in doubt, keep it simple.
The most powerful tools for post-disaster fundraising are empathy and a desire to help. But don’t let those emotions overshadow practicality – your fundraising will be much more effective if you keep these points in mind!