Five Things to Consider Before Canceling Your Fundraiser
In the past few days there has been much discussion of the Coronavirus and its impact on Christian radio and the fundraising efforts many of us are involved in this season. Canceling or postponing your fundraising events may be a safe choice in a time of uncertainty, but at the time of this writing, there is no good information on when our communities may return to a more “normal” reality.
In addition, ministries may find themselves in an untenable financial position by canceling or postponing a regular revenue event. While the current reality is sure to impact your event, some revenue may be preferable over no revenue. Each situation is unique, and we believe the following considerations should be made before changing your annual fundraising calendar.
- You shouldn’t have to choose between ministry and fundraising. At i58:10 Media, we believe an effective fundraising event should be part of your ongoing ministry to encourage and share hope with your audience. A fundraiser stories of God’s work and His goodness, and calls listeners to surrender and worship through generosity. A listener should be moved closer to God by your fundraiser, not further away.
- Uncertainty allows you to go deeper with your listener, and they want that! While we don’t necessarily see as many “themes” as we used to in events, this may be the time to declare your event to be about “embracing faith and rejecting fear.” In a time of chaos and the unknown we all tend to hold onto things in our life a little tighter; especially our money. But is that really what God calls us to do? Today my friend Jon Hamilton from Christian FM – who is in the midst of what looks to be a very successful fundraiser – put it this way:
“…in Acts 11 when the church was facing a major famine, their first response to the news was to actually take up an offering to send to the brothers in Judea. …they chose to give an offering to help others. It’s no accident that same church in Antioch went on to be the cradle of Christianity. Sometimes getting people out of their own fears and mobilized to serve is one of the most loving things we can do…”
We have seen it time and time again in our world, people rally in the face of fear. With acts of love and sacrifice, fear is cast out. Why not allow your fundraiser to be part of your station’s overall “rallying” efforts?
- Transparency and candidness will always be relevant, especially in times of chaos. Remember who your fundraiser listeners are; people who have a deep and emotional relationship with your ministry and what it does for them. They want openness and clarity from you. Sharing the need and taking about the current reality openly will gain you trust from your most loyal listeners. By the way, being willing to share your own fears, and how you’re dealing with them, is perfectly ok. Relationships are built on shared experiences, and more than ever, we’re all in this together.
- This isn’t a one way or the other situation. Proceeding with your fundraiser in the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t disqualify you from engaging in another fundraiser in the near future. Our listeners – and especially donors – understand budgeting and financial needs. When you have an open and trustworthy brand voice, you can always explain the need for flexibility in the timing of other fundraising initiatives.
- The bottom isn’t falling out everywhere or for everyone. As I write this, there are wonderful fundraising event results being reported from great ministries like the aforementioned Christian FM and J103 in Chattanooga. These stations made strategic moves in their fundraising efforts and addressed the current situation to make themselves more relevant and worthy of support – not less. I expect we will continue to hear about more stations finding success monetarily AND with ministry in the coming days and weeks.
Again, each situation is unique. Making a change in your fundraising efforts may be the right decision for some ministries. However, we believe a decision like that should be carefully weighed within your ministry’s strategy, financial health and brand goals.
Your station has the largest worship gathering in your community and goes beyond every closed or quarantined door. With many churches closed and face-to-face community taking a pause, YOU have the opportunity to be the meeting place; the be the connector. The coming weeks and months will be an opportunity for us to not only share our faith in Jesus, but model it as well.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your specific situation, no strings attached, give me call. Who doesn’t love talking about Jesus and radio?! I’m at 503-957-4061 or via email at [email protected] .
Scott Michaels serves non-profit ministries as Director of Radio Station Fundraising at i58:10 Media. He has spent much of his career building successful media brands as a Station Manager, Regional Program Director and On-Air Friend. He’s a single Dad of three teenagers and spends way more than he should at his local Starbucks. You can reach out via phone at 503-957-4061 or [email protected].