Your Charity’s Greatest Opportunity is the Rising Need of Donors to Connect

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented fundraising professionals with a large number of significant difficulties. One of those challenges is trying to figure out where to get solid, actionable information to help nonprofit organizations raise much-needed funds.

Now, Prof. Jen Shang, Co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, comes to our rescue. On Friday, May 22, 2020, she will be presenting a special webinar: “How to Love Your Donors During COVID-19.” I recently received an email from Prof. Shang, along with three tips, that she is kindly allowing me to share with you.

Prof. Shang, the world’s only philanthropic psychologist, has found that the pandemic is causing donors to feel a lack of wellbeing. This is due in large part to a decrease in the sense of connection that people feel during the lockdown. Interestingly, this presents an opportunity for your charity.

When you help your donors feel a sense of real connection, you will help them feel a greater sense of wellbeing. When they associate that greater sense of wellbeing with your nonprofit organization, they will be more likely to renew and increase their support now and well into the future. In other words, by taking care of your donors, you will be taking care of your charity.

One of the things that will make this webinar a valuable experience for you is that it is based on scientific research rather than simply relying on war stories or opinion. In other words, the many bright ideas you’ll learn will be solid and safely actionable. As someone who has taken Prof. Shang’s Philanthropic Psychology course, I can personally assure you that you will get meaningful information that will help you enhance your fundraising efforts.

Here is Prof. Shang’s message:


COVID-19 has created such uncertainty in our lives that many are wondering how and when life will ever get back to normal and how we will survive it all in the meantime.

At the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, we have not stopped collecting data since the first country locked down at the beginning of this pandemic. And we have been collecting data on how good people feel every other week since.

This [post] will give you a first sneak peak of the findings, and three tips on what to do NOW that you’ll find at the end.

We will release the full results of these studies in a webinar that we will host twice this Friday, May 22 at 6:00 am UK time and again at 3:00 pm UK time.

We studied over 4,000 adults in the US and other countries.

We measured about 30 feelings that people experienced on a daily basis. We found that people’s feelings significantly worsened during the first six weeks of the pandemic. As the lockdown continued, people felt progressively worse.

Specifically, people felt less connected to others.

Psychologists have known for decades that feeling connected to others is one of the three most fundamental needs we have as humans. Our need to have this fulfilled cannot be changed. It is as certain as our life exists. Our sense of connectedness declines when we are isolated in lockdown, when we cannot physically see anyone or talk to anyone, and when we cannot hug anyone or kiss anyone. We have seen our connectedness score declining for over six weeks now.

There is no uncertainty in any of it. When humans are locked down, their need to connect rises. With data, we also know what they need and in what quantity.

We expected that people’s sense of connectedness would decline. We expected that people would feel less connected to the world, to other people, to their communities, and to their family and friends. What we did not expect to find is that people also feel less connected to animals! What this tells us is that what people experience in this lockdown is a general decline in our sense of connectedness. It is a component of wellbeing that we are losing as the weeks pass by. This general decline is not something necessarily directed to any particular type of connections. As a holistic person, we just feel less connected, to everything.

It is also certain that people’s risen need to connect will have to be restored. The need to connect is fundamental to our sense of being human.

What this suggests is that we may begin to see people’s sense of connectedness rise once different regions begin to unlock. But we may not.

This is because it is not just the fact that people need to physically be with others in order to feel connected. They also need to experience the same degree of security and comfort when they are with others physically. Until people feel safe and comfortable being with others in person, we know with certainty, that they will need other ways to feel connected.

It is in this certainty of people’s higher need to connect in the coming months that we see the biggest opportunities for charities. Charities can step into the gap to help people restore their sense of connectedness to the Pre-COVID Level.

It is our hypothesis that if charities really know what they are doing, they can potentially help their supporters develop a sense of connectedness that surpasses what could have been possible before COVID-19. They could use this opportunity to re-shape the nature of what relationships mean for their supporters.

As complicated as these ideas sound, here are three steps that we can take to think about how to do this:

1) Recognise that to help people feel connected with others is very different from actually being connected with others.

We cannot necessarily fulfill people’s need to connect, if the only thing we focus on is carrying out an activity. People may not necessarily feel connected, just because charities have called people, have emailed people, have asked how people feel, have SMS-ed people, or have visited people within the safe social distance.

It is the feeling of connection that people long for, not the formality of connection.

2) To genuinely meet people’s need to connect, we have to take steps to connect with them first.

Innovation occurs at a much faster pace during crisis time than during normal times.

If you think of something that can genuinely and authentically help your donors feel connected, and if it is based on the best fundraising principles that you have practised for years, then you just need to do that.

You do not need to wait to see if others have succeeded with it. Because by the time that others have succeeded, you will have become a copycat. Whatever authenticity that could have been used by you, would have lost its originality.

3) Continue to create two-way conversations so that your donors can feel listened to, understood and cared for.

This thank-you message was created at the beginning of the crisis by one of my favourite charities and this charity is doing really well during the crisis.

How did they manage to do it? They created meaningful two-day communications to listen to what their supporters expressed in their giving right before the Crisis began.

They knew with certainty what their supporters want to hear during this crisis. That is the power of meaningful two-way communications.

To hear the full detail of all the studies we conducted, register now for one of our webinars this Friday, May 22, 2020.

We will release the full results of these studies in a webinar that we will host twice this Friday, May 22. You can register for the webinar that best suits your time zone by selecting your choice below:

Webinar one: 6:00 AM UK time, or

Webinar two: 3:00 PM UK time

Registrants will have access to the webinar recording for 30 days.

The registration fee is 118.80 GBP.


That’s what Pro. Jen Shang and Michael Rosen say… What do you say?

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