Year-End Fundraising in a Pandemic
December 17, 2020
Prioritizing What Matters: Annual Planning for You and for Us
February 3, 2021

Your Donors are Curious

January is traditionally about new beginnings and fresh perspectives. This year’s start is a little rocky to say the least, but it’s still perfect time to reconsider how you’re making your case for support.

In fact, a new take on your fundraising story is more important this year than ever.

Your donors want to know:

How are you handling the pandemic? How has it impacted your clients? Have you been able to keep your staff? Did you get a PPP loan? Will you get another? Is everyone healthy? How did year-end go for you? Did your donor community provide enough support?

Bottom line – they want to know that you’re ok. And they want to know how to help.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to meet with your internal team this month and revisit your fundraising language.

Here are some tips for how to talk to your donors right now:

Tell it like it is

Treat your donors as insiders. If you have significant challenges and need additional resources, say so. Likewise, if you’re doing well, meeting budget and feeling optimistic, celebrate openly.

Answer their burning questions

Look at the list above and be sure to fill them in on all the scoop. It’s such a weird time, people really do want to hear how you’ve adapted and changed.

Shorten the story arc

Let donors know how you’ve made it through the past 10 months and what you anticipate for the next 10 months. Ground everything in your broader vision, of course, but the only way to be realistic right now is to recognize that the future is still unknown.

Acknowledge the donor’s circumstances

Nothing is normal for anyone right now. Your donors may or may not be able to support you at this exact moment, but make it clear that you want them by your side for the long term.

Showcase your clients

The people you serve have probably shown incredible resilience and fortitude. Highlight their wins. We all need some positive stories.

Be really clear about your values

Making a case for support is always about finding shared values with your donors and then explaining why a gift to your organization is a great way to turn those values to action.

In the midst of all the madness, revisiting how you make your case can be clarifying and invigorating. It’s good for your donors and it’s also good for you!


  1. Absolutely! To be successful in this capital campaign business, you should get curious… very curious… about your largest prospective donors.

  2. In other words, being curious with your donor means you are actively trying to figure out what makes your donor tick.

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