What does an experienced fundraiser have to say about the COVID-19 crisis and fundraising? We spoke with Gasby Brown, CEO and executive consultant of The Gasby Group, Inc., and faculty member at The Fund Raising School.
Brown has 30 years of working as a fundraising executive and consultant with organizations such as YWCAs, Salvation Army, National African American of History and Culture Museum, Kevin Durant Foundation, Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation, Kid’s Hope USA and many others. She shared her knowledge and experiences with participants in webinars with The Fund Raising School, as well as her recent book Business of A Spiritual Matter: What All Leaders of Faith-Based Nonprofits Should Know.
In the webinars, podcasts and the book, Brown advises nonprofits to make a case for why they benefit the community.
“Essential businesses have made a case for why they should remain open during this time,” she says. “So, what is a nonprofit’s reason for why they matter? Be precise, sincere, intentional, and loud about why you matter. Explain why you exist and what the community would look like if you weren’t around. Find your space and your place in order to standout to your donors to explain why you matter.”
Brown encourages nonprofits to make a case to donors and potential donors for investing in tomorrow.
“It’s not business as usual; you can respectfully and empathetically solicit potential donors, while finding ways to stay in front of your constituents and show them that your case is still relevant,” she says. “In addition, invite them to a discussion about how your organization might look at fundraising moving forward.”
Think about the work as an invitation, Brown explained: “Ask them to join you, to make an impact and investment in your organization and the community. Then continue to use your fundraising cycle to encourage donors to get into the habit of giving.”
Engaging your board is an essential step, and it starts with building an effective board. Brown emboldens nonprofits to consider board members who can best advance the vision and mission of the organization, and then involve them in the fundraising process. For example, invite them on those fundraising Zoom calls at the appropriate time.
She also advises organizations to diversify fundraising channels.
“For private, faith-based schools, how can you go beyond bake sales to use best practices to raise money?” Brown asks. “How can you maximize fundraising through major gifts, corporations, foundations, digital fundraising, the capital campaign, and planned giving? The bake sale will never be enough.”
Nonprofit fundraisers should also demonstrate leadership within and outside of their organizations. Brown advises fundraisers to “be intentional about the kind of culture you want to create. How are you evaluating your team during this time? Are you setting them up for success? What goals do you have, and how can you use scenario planning for the future?”
Long-term, Brown hopes to empower organizations through the “next normal” and beyond COVID-19. She and her team are engaging their clients in reflection, reimagining, and recalibrating where necessary.
“I hope that all organizations are able to operate at their maximum with optimum excellence, because they are already doing good work,” she says. “Nonprofits are accustomed to meeting challenges, and they are up to the task to look at the problems we face today and find creative solutions, even during a time of uncertainty.”
Brown’s upcoming book project, Think Like a Nonprofit, Act Like A Business is anticipated for release in 2021. She is also the podcast host of NonProfit Thursdays, an offshoot of her popular in-person luncheon series that was sponsored by Merrill Lynch Bank of America for 10 years.