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Fundraising during a pandemic

Since the news broke in March of 2020, that COVID was going to disrupt our lives in a much bigger way than most of us could have ever imagined, numerous business sectors were going to be affected. None more than organizations and recipients that rely on fundraising income, or so it seemed.

But what we have found out since is that perception is not always reality.

Many of us remember perhaps late March of last year, when the stock market seemed to be in a freefall. Companies were forced to deal with public health measures that had only one aspect in mind. To keep people safe, avoid hospitals to be overrun and stop people who worked or lived-in long-term care homes from getting sick or dying.

And here we are 18 months after those historic times, looking at what most believe will be the last winter of this pandemic, before it can become endemic next spring, which will be much easier to manage from a public health perspective. Particularly now that the majority of people have developed immunity because of being COVID infection survivors or having received a vaccine.

And how did it affect the fundraising landscape?

Luckily for most organizations, government financial support replaced a lot of that burden.

Which really means that since this support came in the form of additional debt that the government took on, on behalf of all Canadians, more Canadians than ever supported these good causes, indirectly. 

Some recipients of fundraising efforts were able to capitalize on this pandemic.

Who does not remember the hospital foundations that were taking out ads in national media, to remind us to be thankful of the front-line heroes and please donate, donate, donate?

And luckily for the other organizations in need of philanthropic support, the stock market recovered, rewarding investors and corporations alike in 2020 and 2021. Many corporations that covered a variety of sectors of the economy made vast amounts of monies, partly due to the support obtained from government subsidies, interest free loans, and reduced overhead expenses, as employees worked from home.

All of this bodes well for a quick recovery of the ongoing and new support for not-for-profits, charitable gifting, fundraising campaigns and the fundraising industry. As all of us had to get used to Zoom calls being the closest to what we could come to having an in-person conversation or ask opportunity, we now slowly see that in person meetings and small donor events have started up again.

For the organizations, who have kept up their stewardship, ensured that their communication to their donors continued and improved, invested in technology to remain close to their supporters by using online communication in an engaging way, and in some cases pausing their donor’s multi-year commitments to show compassion and understanding of what was going on in their donors lives and business, will come out ahead of this.

It was an opportune time to make the connection between the ‘cause’ and the philanthropist even stronger, during this unprecedented time that affected so many of us.

Now is a good time to be in fundraising, for more than one reason.

If you need some advice on how to kick-start any of your campaigns, feel free to reach out.

We can always share a cup of coffee…over Zoom that is. 


– Martin