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Showing Sensitivity: Fundraising Calls to Action During COVID-19

Nevada Public Radio changes their tone during 2020 Spring Membership Campaign

Showing Sensitivity: Fundraising Calls to Action During Covid-19

When non-essential businesses are closed, employees have been laid off or furloughed, and 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment, many nonprofits are struggling to answer one basic question:


“Is it okay to have a fundraiser during this crisis?”

When every kind of large gathering—galas, fun runs, golf tournaments, auctions and more have been cancelled, it’s no surprise that the money has disappeared and the need for donations is greater now than ever.

Give by Cell recently interviewed Lisa Kelly, Nevada Public Radio's Director of Development, to discuss how they handled their Spring Membership campaign.

“It was a difficult decision to go forward with our Spring Membership Campaign amidst the coronavirus. However, we knew we had to at least try because we do not have a ‘rainy day fund’ that we could have used,“ reported Kelly.

Usually a three week campaign, KNPR pivoted strategy and limited the fundraiser to two weeks while also shortening the on-air asking for donations from 25 minutes to less than 15 minutes per hour. In addition, KNPR lowered their goal from $300,000 to $120,000.

More importantly, KNPR changed the way they asked for donations.

“We changed our tone for the campaign. We truly only wanted to reach out to those that could give something, making it clear that if you were affected by the coronavirus pandemic that this campaign is not for you. We didn’t talk about memberships or sustaining memberships. It was truly ‘give what you can.”  says Kelly


In a recent Give by Cell webinar, fundraising consultant Jim Anderson responded to today’s fundraising conundrum.

“In most circumstances, yes, you should participate in asking whether it be Giving Tuesday or some other format. The question is, how do you ask? In the course of your ask, can you give people permission not to give? If you give them an out and let them know it’s okay not to give, then you’ve eliminated that guilt for them and they will not have negative feelings associated with your organization.”

KNPR successfully reached their Spring Membership campaign goal of $120,000 in two weeks. Team members followed up personally with donors.

“I had a few members on my team call everyone who made a donation during the spring campaign to just say ‘Thanks.’ Everyone appreciated the call and was truly thankful that they could give something,” said Kelly. “We have only been able to do what we do because of listener support and we are truly grateful that we have such amazing listeners.”

Showing Sensitivity: Fundraising Calls to Action During COVID-19

Nevada Public Radio changes their tone during 2020 Spring Membership Campaign

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