Imagine you are a multiservice agency serving the hungry and homeless in your local community. People depend on your services and rely on the meals you provide – often the only meals they get all day.
Now imagine you are about to run out of food. That’s a real emergency.
Action in Community Through Service (ACTS), a local nonprofit in Prince William County, VA, faced just such a disaster. While the crisis wasn’t the result of a natural disaster, their need to launch an immediate emergency response has many lessons for nonprofits that face similar situations as a result of manmade crises or acts of God.
Instead of panicking, ACTS immediately broadcast the dire situation to their community of supporters to inform them that ACTS was going to have to close its food pantry doors unless they received much needed funding to restock food supplies.
Here’s what ACTS learned from the appeal:
- The community cares
- A few people with key contacts make a huge impact
- A combination of media outlets are necessary to reach a variety of communities
- Use the opportunity to narrate your whole story, not just the one event
- An organizational communication plan simplifies the process
- Use the opportunity to educate the board on the impact of social media
- Keep your donors informed on the results of their support
- Access to an online donation venue (such as Network for Good's DonateNow) is absolutely necessary for single and recurring donations
As a result of the emergency appeal, ACTS was able to keep the food pantry open. Not only that, because ACTS took the opportunity to communicate their value to the community in a compelling way across many communication channels (social media, email outreach, media attention, personal outreach), the organization was able to deepen its relationship with its supporter base. ACTS achieved an increase in the number of recurring donations from new and existing donors, saw more interest in all the programs it offers – not just the food pantry, and experienced additional interest from staff and volunteers to maintain a strong online and social media presence.
Bottom line: emergency appeals should follow the same fundraising best practices that win the hearts of your supports all year – but with an extra sense of urgency.
We need your opinion: Did you find this article helpful? Please take our short survey to help us understand your needs.
This content was funded by a generous grant from Cisco Systems, Inc.