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Fundraising During the Corona Outbreak: Answers to 5 Pressing Questions

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fundraising During the Corona Outbreak: Answers to 5 Pressing Questions

Amid all the bad news, there is one bright spot: Nonprofits that have been strengthening relationships with donors, communicating clearly and openly, and making the most of technology have been preparing for a crisis like this for a while.

Prioritizing these practices — even if you start now — and staying on top of your donors’ preferences will help you respond to destabilizing events, whether an epidemic, election, or natural disaster.

To help you provide donors with consistency and a common purpose during this crisis, here are answers to some key questions nonprofits are asking.

Is it tone-deaf to ask for money now or in the coming weeks?

Most of your donors are being negatively affected — albeit to varying extents — by the crisis. Your organization is probably better off waiting for them to regain clarity and stability before asking for gift commitments.

With the exception of emergency campaigns related to the crisis, we recommend deferring major solicitations at present. During the next few weeks, check in on donors to see how they and their families are holding up and share stories about the impact your organization is having during this crisis.

If a solicitation is in progress, ask donors how they want to proceed. If you had a solicitation planned, postpone it for four to eight weeks and then re-evaluate. When the time is right to ask, whether it is during the peak of the crisis or during recovery, here’s how to handle the conversation:

  • Begin by acknowledging the difficult situation that the coronavirus presents for all, especially those with significant investments in the financial markets.
  • Put your relationship first. Emphasize the long-term nature of your ties, and if a donor can’t commit to a gift, offer other ways to support the organization. Be prepared with specific examples such as participating in cultivation calls. Be there for them, and they will be there for you.
  • If appropriate, make your case for support, emphasize your long-term vision, and explain why your work needs support now. For instance, if you work with a vulnerable population that needs immediate help — such as the homeless or people with developmental disabilities — explain how your organization is helping.
  • Be flexible. Consider offering donors the option to defer a pledge payment or extend a payment schedule due to the economic uncertainty.

What should I do about my upcoming gala or fundraising event?

Think about how to go virtual; it could enable you to share content with a bigger audience. One organization that holds its yearly conference this month announced its first-annual "Virtual Mega Event" and touted the ability to participate from the comfort of home. The group took a gamble and announced a virtual-only conference before it had figured out all of the details. But it divided and conquered: Some staff members worked with advertisers to adapt their sponsorships and others hammered out the programming. It took just one week to convert the event.

If you planned to hold a silent auction or appeal during an in-person event, move it online using a platform such as BiddingForGood. While set-up is somewhat time-consuming, an online auction has several advantages. First, the website (and others like it) has its own pool of consumers searching for goods and services for which they can get a tax-deduction for the amount contributed that is above fair-market value. Attracting these new supporters can be a big benefit to organizations that are struggling to find new donors. Some other advantages: Virtual auctions reduce other work such as preparing signs and delivering items to a venue. Assisting with creation of a virtual auction can be a great way to engage volunteers, too.

If you do cancel an event, don’t automatically offer a refund. One synagogue handled cancellation of its communitywide holiday dinner after incurring all of the expenses. Its leaders were candid about the cost and offered three options to congregants who’d signed up: a full refund, a 50 percent refund, or a 100 percent donation. More than 80 percent of the congregation opted to donate the ticket cost.

How can I cultivate relationships when people won’t meet?

Zoom is your new best friend, or FaceTime, Skype, or WhatsApp video. Donors may view videoconferencing as more formal than a casual meet-up for coffee, so be sure to set a relaxed tone by opening your session by sharing an anecdote or by asking a few questions to break the ice. If you are not familiar with videoconferencing and feel uncomfortable, test the platform with friends or family to calm your nerves.

Continue to provide personal treatment. Consider software such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Classrooms or Hangouts on Air, or Facebook Live to host virtual events and hold town-hall meetings to give key supporters updates on your work. A number of these platforms are offering premium services for free during the crisis. If your donors hesitate to use such programs, consider setting up a hotline or online chat to answer donors’ questions about using videoconferencing software.

Communicate with supporters via social media. Your donors will likely be spending more time online seeking updated news. Think creatively about how to get their attention through a mix of impact stories, polls and surveys, status updates, and entertainment.

Focus on social-media platforms or communication channels on which your nonprofit has the highest engagement. Use videos, infographics, and images online to continue demonstrating impact. Make sure your offerings look great and are functional on desktop and mobile. Repurpose and be resourceful. For communications content, not every story about impact needs to be new. Think about what your donors need from you. Reassurance? Comfort? Distraction? Use content you already have and even intersperse posts from other organizations that align with your mission.

How do I convey an ability to persevere through trying times?

Reassure donors that you still have exciting plans for the future, that your cause is operating from a place of optimism, despite the current uncertainty. While acknowledging that this crisis is unprecedented, share fiscal contingency plans to give donors confidence that you can weather a financial decline.

If your organization has a track record of persisting in the face of adversity, highlight it. A contingency plan may include tapping an endowment or reserves, partnering with other organizations to streamline services, or temporarily freezing non-essential programs. It is critical to be transparent with your donors.

Leaders should identify opportunities to address budget gaps if giving falls below anticipated levels. These contingency measures should be summarized in a short statement to be shared with donors both individually and through organizational communications. The statement should address how or whether the organization will:

  • Make up for any lost revenue or interest.
  • Pay back any loans secured or reinstate programs and services. It may ask for more from donors post-crisis.
  • Cut the budget if need be.
  • Assure donors you are making strategic choices to deliver your core programs and services.

How can I keep my donors engaged?

If you have volunteer work that can be done remotely, such as editing, artwork, or social-media promotion, seize the opportunity. Perhaps you could build a social-media committee to help boost your content and broaden your online constituency. This could be a good opportunity to engage younger constituents and introduce fresh perspectives and creativity to your work. If you do tap supporters for this, be sure to properly thank and recognize their contributions.

While we all prefer predictability, there are times in our lives — personal, communal, and now global, when chaos encroaches. Humankind is resilient. Nonprofits exist to offer hope, help people cope, and make the world better. Let’s use this challenging time to do just that.

Rachel Cyrulnik, Chani Adams, Lauren Cotton, and Sharon Weiss Greenberg are part of the team at RAISE Nonprofit Advisors, a fundraising consulting firm.


As the coronavirus crisis deepens, The Chronicle is providing free access to our breaking-news updates on its impact on the nonprofit world. It’s your support that makes our work possible.

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Tags:  Fundraising 

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Lois Kwasman Community Impact Grant Given by Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Foundation

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Monday, November 25, 2019

Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Foundation 

Present the 2019 Kwasman Grant & Honor Scholarship Recipients at 

Annual Fall Luncheon 

Making a Difference in the Lives of Girls & Women in our Community 

Palm Beach County, FL- (November 4, 2019) Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Foundation (EWPBF) hosted their annual Fall Luncheon on October 29, 2019 at the West Palm Beach Marriott. Over 100 members of EWPBF and guests attended this exciting event that honored their 2019 scholarship recipients and announced the winner of the 2019-2020 Lois Kwasman Community Impact Grant. Frances Fisher served as Honorary Chair of the luncheon.

EWPBF’s Kwasman Grant is a $20,000 grant awarded over two years to local non-profit organizations whose programs are designed to assist girls and young women ages eight to 24 in Palm Beach County who lack hope or need help in developing life skills.  These programs focus on helping participants gain self-confidence and become resourceful and self-sufficient, thus positioning them for a successful life.  

The EWPBF 2019 Kwasman Grant winner was Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County and its Caps & Cribs Teen Mom Mentor Program.  This one-on-one mentor program supports the educational, life, career and parenting goals of teen mothers in Palm Beach County. Volunteer mentors are matched with pregnant or parenting teens in high schools to provide guidance, inspiration and real-life experience in a trusting environment, with the goal of empowering these young women to stay in school, develop post-secondary education goals and become independent, self-sufficient mothers.

Best Foot Forward, an agency that offers programs promoting academic success to foster care youth was given the second half of the grant they were awarded in 2018.

The two other finalists included: Student ACEs - Women ACES (Attitude, Confidence, Embrace, Support); and YWCA of Palm Beach County - Youth Empowerment (Y-Girls/Y-Teens/Just-US Girls). 

The 2019-2020 Kwasman Grant Nominations included: Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches; Alliance for Eating Disorders; Alliance of Woman Executives (AWE); Families First; Girl Scouts of SE Florida; Girls 2 Women; Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of PBC; Holy Ground; Open Door - Breaking Family Cycles; Pace Center for Girls; Path to College; Philanthropy Tank; Place of Hope; Quantum House; Speak Up for Kids; Student ACES; Talented Teen Club; Women Empowering Women in Recovery; Women's Foundation of Florida; and YWCA. 

The Lois Kwasman Program for Community Impact was established in 2004 in memory of EWPBF board member Lois Cohn Kwasman.  The Kwasman Program provides EWPBF with an avenue to make an impact in our community, through grants designed to support efforts that assist the under-served, needy or less fortunate.  

To date, EWPBF has awarded over $330,000 through the Lois Kwasman Program for Community Impact. 

This year thanks to the support of EWPBF sponsors, partners and donors, the Foundation was responsible for 20 scholarships totaling $39,500.  The 2019 scholarship recipients include: Tonya Allegretti, Jessica Bailey, Julia Breslow, Jessica Caplin, Ivonne Castro, Floren Cernemus, Anne Phoebee Francois, Christal Grant, Alondra Maria Hernandez, Morgan Hirchert, Victoria Magaldi, Loren Mosley, Maria Pedro, Holly Rand, Marie Sintulaire, Dayana Torres, Gina Vallarella, Marianna Vallejo, and Lanika Vernice. 

Luncheon sponsors included: Frances Fisher, Florida Atlantic University, Keiser University, Palm Beach Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College. 

About: Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Foundation (EWPBF)

Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Foundation, Inc. was founded by senior professional and executive women in Palm Beach County, Florida, to support and advance women in business and community leadership. Today, EWPBF’s membership includes leaders in arts & culture, banking, business, construction, education, finance, government, healthcare, law, marketing, non-profit management, publishing, real estate, utilities, and many other business endeavors in Palm Beach County. For more than 35 years, the foundation has contributed to growing the status of and opportunities for girls and women in Palm Beach County. The organization has awarded more than 200 scholarships to deserving young women and over 40 significant grants to local nonprofit programs. EWPBF is dedicated to inspiring women personally and professionally for the betterment of business and the community. 

For more information about the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Foundation, please visit


Tags:  Charities  Cultivate  Fundraising  Membership  Nonprofit  Nonprofit Philanthropy  Palm Beach County 

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Boca Rio Foundation RFP Opens

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Friday, October 25, 2019

Boca Rio Foundation Now Accepting Grant Proposals.

Download the guidelines and application here.

The deadline for proposals is January, 10th 2020.


Karla Souza

Boca Rio Golf Club


Download File (PDF)

Tags:  Charities  Development  Fundraising  Grants  Nonprofit Philanthropy  Palm Beach County  Philanthropy 

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Notables Notices Hats Off Nonprofit Awards

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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​Hats Off Nonprofit Awards to Honor 113 Nominees on October 1st

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

 Hats Off Nonprofit Awards to Honor 113 Nominees on October 1st


West Palm Beach – Nonprofits First, Inc. has announced 113 nominees, representing 90 local nonprofit organizations and community partners, who will be recognized at its third annual Hats Off Nonprofit Awards ceremony.


The event, a spirited, hat-themed cocktail reception, will take place on Tuesday, October 1, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Harriett Himmel Theatre in West Palm Beach.  Well-known local TV personalities Suzanne Boyd and Eric Roby, who host the Rise+Live morning talk show, will emcee the evening.  In keeping with supporting the nonprofit community, hors d’oeuvres will be catered by Joshua Catering from The Lord’s Place.


Awards will be given in nine categories, including awards for organizations and individuals. New this year is the Lifetime Achievement Award, honoring an individual who, over the years, has effected noteworthy change in Palm Beach County and is held in high esteem by the community. The winners in each category will be kept a secret until they are announced on stage during the ceremony.


A blue ribbon panel of 40 community leaders in the public and private sectors selected. Two live awards will also be announced at the event. Guests will be invited to vote on the People’s Choice Award, which will acknowledge the nominee receiving the most votes.  Also, judges will be scouting for creativity when selecting a winner of the Best Hat Award.


“This event sold out last year, so we encourage people to buy their tickets early,” said Jessica Cecere, CEO of Nonprofits First, which is hosting the event. “We anticipate another exciting evening of cheerful celebration for those in the business of doing good.”


Funds raised from this unique event benefit Nonprofits First Education Programs. These programs focus on the professional development, leadership and training the nonprofit community volunteers and employees need to lead and succeed.


To view the nominees, visit To purchase tickets, go online to or call Nonprofits First at 561-214-7435.


For more than 12 years, Nonprofits First, Inc. has been the leading resource for strengthening the administrative and operational capacity of nonprofit organizations in the community. Comprised of experienced professionals, consultants and volunteers, the vision of Nonprofits First is a community in which all nonprofits achieve their highest level of success.

Tags:  Charities  Fundraising  Network  Nonprofit Philanthropy  Palm Beach County 

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