Here's How Your AFPSEWI Peers are Coping

woman walking up underground stairwell toward opening with light coming throughSurvey documents area fundraisers' adaptations to COVID-19

Fundraisers in Southeastern Wisconsin are still feeling the impacts of COVID-19, although there seems to be some light at the end of tunnel, according to May survey results from AFPSEWI members.

With the new social distancing and protective measures in place across the state, it is no wonder that 64% of respondents said they are seeing the most impact in the delivery of programs and services. Many members noted that they have had to adapt to moving their programming and delivery of goods and services to a virtual model through webinars, online classes, and over-the-phone. Some members are engaging volunteers through sharing videos, photos, and thank you messages from staff, regular and consistent communication (phone and email), and social media shout outs.

Some members reported actually seeing an increase in delivery services, but a decline in fundraising efforts. Perhaps the biggest question for fundraisers during this time has centered around event management. Do you keep your event? Postpone it? Find another way to host it? Our members considered all options with 38% postponing to a later date in 2020, 23% canceling altogether, and 18% moving to an online platform. Only about 7 percent postponed their event to 2021.

Respondents are seeking assistance though during these tough times. Nearly 70 percent of respondents applied for assistance under the CARES ACT, which provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserve jobs for American industries. For those who did apply, 73% received financial support. Reasons from members who did not apply for funding included ineligibility due to small staff size and “felt others needed it more, we have reserves.”

As we navigate a new reality with COVID-19, APFSEWI has worked hard to try to meet our members’ needs. We were happy to learn that 71% of respondents felt we had done that. “AFPSEWI continues to be a valued resource for my own professional development and has found innovative ways to connect with colleagues across the sector,” one respondent noted.

Roughly 23% of respondents asked for more free educational tools, webinars, and networking opportunities while still respecting the current limitations on in-person gatherings. Specifically, 65% of respondents are seeking webinars on COVID-19 related topics (how to talk to donors during a crisis, moving events online, tech tools for remote working) and 55% would like informal spaces for roundtable-type discussions with fellow fundraisers – a suggestion that has already been implementedRespondents also expressed interest in webinars on evergreen topics (donor appreciation, major gifts, etc.) and virtual happy hours.

Our members offered some good advice on ways to stay productive while working from home.  Some of the most popular suggestions were taking daily walks, keeping regular work hours, creating a private work space, focusing on what can be done vs. what cannot be done, and remembering we aren’t just working from home, we are trying to work from the home in the middle of a global crisis.

Contributed by AFPSEWI member, Sarah Robinson, Communications & Marketing Specialist, St. Joseph Academy