Covid-19 & Fundraising

Never in my life have I ever seen a situation as we find ourselves in right now. Admittedly, I was less than a stellar student at university (oftentimes, my classes interfered with drinks at the Elbow Room). I do, however, remember an introductory Social Science class that spoke of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. That is easily applicable to fundraising.

What Is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

In a nutshell, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory often illustrated as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. The needs lower down in the pyramid must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. These are interpreted as one’s base needs.

This pandemic has shaken the very base of our being. Our physiological needs are in jeopardy. I came back from the grocery store the other day and the shelves were pretty empty, to say the least. Couple that with a family that keeps kosher and what is usually a challenging outing to the grocery store becomes almost impossible. It was like a scene from Lord of the Flies.

The next level up according to Maslow is the Safety needs. With anywhere from 30% to 70% of the world becoming infected, our sense of health and personal security is compromised.

We are told to socially isolate ourselves. That smacks right in the face of the profession I have chosen, but must be adhered to if we are to try to contain this pandemic.

What does this have to do with fundraising?

My favorite part of fundraising is the face-to-face meetings with folks. Obviously, under an abundance of caution, those meetings will not be occurring for quite some time. So time to go low tech.

This is a great opportunity to call your donors. With the majority of people holed up in their homes, I am confident that a call will help both the caller and the recipient combat social isolation.

We need that human contact. Some of us have shuttered our organization (albeit temporarily). Some of us are essential services. (The organization that I work for runs transitional housing and has over 300 people living in our facilities each and every night.).

In this state of turmoil, people are craving some sort of normalcy. Pick up a phone. Thank a donor. Share your organization’s response to the situation. If you have elderly donors, ask them if they need anything. I have made a bunch of calls to our elderly/medically vulnerable friends offering to pick up any supplies that they may need so they do not need to risk exposure.

What will be the impact on fundraising?

Great question! I have checked the Magic 8-Ball app ( According to that site, our fundraising will not go down.

You may not be so lucky. There are obvious signs that the economy will take a hit. This is the time to think about messaging. Many who are involved in fundraising deal with the most disadvantaged of our population. They need our help, now more than ever. I have had a couple of donors reach out to me (proactively) to tell me that they wish to support our organization through this challenging time. (Have I told you lately that I love what I do????)

When we are all becoming socially isolated, I believe belonging to a greater group (community, members, supporters, staff) is what is going to be the glue in our society. It is precisely the notion of being greater than the sum of our parts that will help us get through this worldwide crisis. There are social media groups popping up all the time coordinating trips to the grocery store or doing what we can to help our neighbors.

One more thing…

As I am likely going to have a modified routine, I will be using this opportunity to catch up on readings (books, blogs, etc.). I have also committed to catching up with old friends (either through Facebook or by phone). The three major cell providers in Canada have waived data overages during this pandemic and I think that it is precisely for this reason.

Please stay safe