Colleen O'Grady
Philanthropic Strategist

Countdown To June 30


Is your fiscal year ending June 30th? Your finish line might look very different today compared with what you projected last quarter. But you still have time to experiment with new tactics. As long as you stay mindful of your tone and messages in this moment, your audiences will understand—even expect—some unconventional approaches.


On April 28th, Instagram began allowing users to create and donate to fundraisers via Instagram Live. “Users” means anyone with an Instagram account—including you (you have an Instagram account, right?) and your supporters. And Facebook has been allowing users to create fundraisers for a while now.

  • Make sure you’re discoverable in Facebook/Instagram’s list of supportable nonprofits. You’ll need to register.
  • About your supporters: many of them find themselves at home, busy with family and work but yearning for some variety in their day—and craving small victories. Give them a task. Give them basic instructions, but let them use their creativity. And don’t forget to thank them!

  • The transaction report you’ll get from Instagram/Facebook won’t include email addresses (except for donors who have opted in), but you can thank donors generally on your own feed, post about impact, and persuade some to deepen their engagement over time.


If you aren’t already, start communicating with your supporters about how the crisis is affecting the mission they believe in and what you have planned as a response.

  • Increase the frequency of your social posts. Choose one type of focus per post: deliver news, levity, an impact micro-story, or a call to action. Engage with reactions (respond, thank, reshare). Participate in conversations you didn’t initiate but that pertain to your mission. Be visible in the places your audiences are spending time.
  • Increase the frequency of your emails while reducing the length and complexity of each email. Consider carving out narrowly defined audience segments and customizing email content accordingly.
  • Don’t shy away from asking. People who can give want to. Make sure you are serving up your institution as a way for people to channel optimism, generosity, or a sense of urgency.


Audiences right now don’t expect videos to look highly produced—but they do value human voices and heartfelt, authentic outreach. A partner like ThankView or GatherVoices will allow you to personalize video messages on a mass scale—and even to enlist board members or influencers in creating videos from wherever they are.


On May 5th, the digital and social landscape will be crowded with appeals, celebrations, and messages of gratitude for giving, volunteerism, and relief efforts related to COVID-19. Anyone is welcome to participate, but organizations whose work directly helps those affected by COVID-19 and related consequences will be best positioned to raise funds and engage audiences. (Keep solicitations simple, direct, and positive, and incorporate visuals!) Others should consider recasting their communications on that date to focus on messages of encouragement and unity.


This isn’t a “new” tactic by any means, but we’ll never stop recommending it: thank your donors without asking. Let them find a link to your giving form in the footer of your email or in your Instagram bio if they go looking for it, but make sure the primary takeaway is a sense of how much you value and appreciate their support, and maybe something about what their support has made possible. This is a moment for handwritten notes, too; if you’ve got staff with pockets of unscheduled time, supply them with note cards, stamps, and nice pens.


If you’ve never experimented with designated funds, do so now. Many institutions have had great success with COVID-19 emergency response funds because donors feel viscerally that their giving makes a difference. Other organizations are seeing strong interest in funds that have nothing to do with COVID-19 but everything to do with community, shared values, and impact. Platforms like GoFundMe and GiveCampus make it easy to create and deploy such campaigns. By allowing donors to choose how they’ll make a difference, you can signal that you want them to bring their full personalities to your mission.


Optimize your giving page and giving form for mobile, for people who are visually impaired, and for every type of browser and screen. Ensure a monthly giving option is available. For donors already giving monthly but who might be affected by the COVID-19 crisis: offer them the option to pause gifts for a set period rather than discontinue giving altogether. And make sure any donor who makes a gift online sees a transaction confirmation and thank-you—both on-screen and in their email inbox.

Mulling over some options and want a sounding board? Reach out to Colleen O’Grady at  cogrady@lipmanhearne.com for an informal conversation or video chat.