How Nonprofits Can Overcome Pandemic Fundraising Challenges

Like most of the world, nonprofits struggled throughout the pandemic. The social distancing efforts put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 meant that nonprofit organizations needed to find new and creative ways to interact with the public, including their community, donors, staff and volunteers.

What are the biggest challenges facing nonprofits?

Community engagement

With social distancing rules and businesses being closed, many businesses struggled with community engagement. For nonprofits especially, community engagement is an essential facet to the business plan.

Without a stronghold in the community, nonprofits often suffer. This means that when non-profits were unable to physically meet with their community members, other means of community engagement were necessary.  Communication with Board members and other nonprofit leaders were often slowed due to the pandemic.    

Many nonprofits turned to increased email and social media campaigns to fill the void. They also spent time creating new partnerships to help optimize digital fundraising, crowdfunding, and other means of peer fundraising.  This online presence can be increased that much more by letting those visiting your website subscribe to a newsletter or allowing for social media post previews through an embedded live feed.       


With people out of work, fundraising has been hard, and it’s never been needed more. In many cases, nonprofit organizations are where people struggling to make ends meet turn to when they need help.

A survey from the Nonprofit Leadership Council showed that fundraising has proven to be the biggest challenge for nonprofits during the pandemic. Social distancing efforts have severely limited in-person fundraising events, leading nonprofits to rely on their virtual donating sectors.

This means that nonprofits need to have their websites capable of accepting donations as well as up to date with your organization’s information. It also makes things easier if your online fundraising activities are integrated into your website. People are often more inclined to donate if you make it easy for them to do so.  Nonprofits often highlight their fundraising goal and fundraising efforts through a fundraising plan.  This plan often communicates fundraising goals to better communicate with new donors.  

Fundraising and community engagement tips

1. Don’t give up 

Fundraising isn’t a new concept for nonprofits. Many nonprofits are searching for fundraising ideas or fundraising campaign strategies. The same can be said for a national crisis. In the past, like after 9/11, some nonprofits simply stopped using direct mail programs altogether. This led to lost revenue. However, those that continued their efforts saw a dip in profits, but donations eventually rebounded.

Likely, this crisis will be no different. When people are loyal to a cause, they will donate when they have the means.

2. Make necessary adjustments

If there can be any silver lining to nonprofits struggling with fundraisers, perhaps it’s that such trials can open opportunities to change and refresh old strategies. If the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated strategy changes, then do it. Take the opportunity to increase your options for online touchpoints. This will allow your donors to continue to engage with your brand if in-person events must be canceled.

3. Be attentive

While your business may desperately need donations and you are a business, don’t forget the human aspect. Reach out to your frequent donors to see how they’re holding up. No need to hit them up for a donation—simply ask how they are doing.

The same goes for your volunteers. Constantly thank them. This is especially true of those that continue to volunteer during the hard times.

4. Host virtual events

Virtual events are a great way to continue your fundraising (and networking with the community) in a safer space. When social distancing demanded it, many nonprofits turned to virtual events to continue to run their businesses. So much so, virtual events are now commonplace and continue to be a way for nonprofits to connect with out-of-town donors who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend their event.

While we may have turned the corner in the pandemic and there are more opportunities to be social, it doesn’t mean that every business has been able to return to life as it was. Moreover, while we may have leaned heavily on digital marketing techniques during the height of the pandemic, it doesn’t mean that these methods were new nor does it mean they’ll disappear. These options are still viable ways for nonprofits to ensure that they get the donations they need to function.

Need help solving online fundraising challenges for your nonprofit website? Our team at Brown Bag is here to help! Reach out today so we can get started.