As many as one-third of nonprofits will close permanently in the wake of COVID-19, with already under-resourced small charities suffering the most. And shutdowns occurred at the worst possible time for small nonprofits – just in time to cancel the spring fundraising events season, when small charities raise part of their operating revenue for the year.
As funding plummeted, operational challenges and the need for nonprofit services grew overnight. A nonprofit supporting out-of-work individuals suddenly needed to quadruple its impact, while a charity that brings meals to an aging population was challenged to protect the health of the people it serves. Nonprofits were faced with an impossible task: do more with far fewer resources.
At the same time, fundraising experts at Network for Good noticed an alarming trend: out of concern for their donors, thousands of small nonprofits stopped fundraising entirely at the start of the pandemic. Knowing this would result in the shuttering of even more charities, we launched #CovidCantStopGOOD - a campaign to bring comfort to small nonprofit employees, help them raise money at a critical moment, and to give them a platform to communicate with their communities about the necessary services they were providing.
Employees and volunteers of small local charities often feel like they’re alone. They work tirelessly for their communities, often without much recognition. We set out to change this, and to save some nonprofits in the process.
To provide hope at a time when small nonprofits and their communities were suffering, we launched a campaign to remind nonprofits of the positive: that no matter what programs, events, or activities COVID-19 brings to a halt in this world, it can’t stop good.
Our strategy was threefold: to uplift and encourage nonprofits by sharing their successes, to provide them with a platform to reach their communities in a time of need, and to use our position as experts in the fundraising space to normalize asking for emergency donations – something many nonprofits were uncomfortable with but was necessary for their survival.
Small nonprofits rarely have advertising budgets or large social media followings, so Network for Good delivered a creative campaign designed to be co-opted by the charities we serve.
We created #CovidCantStopGOOD and invited our nonprofit customers and followers to use the hashtag to get the word out about relief efforts or calls for support. We also provided a suite of downloadable graphics including a Facebook cover frame and an animated gif to help them capture attention on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
As nonprofits and their supporters adopted the hashtag and campaign logo, we began amplifying their stories on our microsite and social media channels to provide inspiration and ideas to other nonprofits. A dedicated Instagram Story Highlight showcased our favorite user-generated examples of how #CovidCantStopGOOD, while our Twitter strategy focused on elevating and celebrating nonprofits through retweets.
In particular, we highlighted organizations that successfully raised money to provide relief to their communities and shared the specific tactics they used. In doing so, we reinforced the idea that fundraising activities should continue during the pandemic and created a knowledge-share between small nonprofits professionals who were previously disconnected from their peers. Using content collected through the hashtag, we published a lookbook to serve as inspiration for nonprofits struggling to communicate with their donors.
To further connect the small nonprofit community, we collected words of advice and encouragement from nonprofit professionals to their peers via a survey. We then shared those messages through videos and graphics on Network for Good-owned channels.
Aware that small nonprofits were in need of more than hope, we compiled fundraising guidance to show nonprofit leaders the way forward. We launched a weekly advice column and recurring webinars to allow nonprofits to submit questions and hear directly from the experts. Additionally, we hosted regular Facebook Live Q&A sessions to help nonprofit professionals get instant answers to their questions about virtual fundraising events, communicating with donors, and helping their organization survive the pandemic.
We gamified fundraising with an Instagram game of #CovidCantStopGOOD BINGO, encouraging players to take small actions that would build their confidence as they transitioned to online-only fundraising.
Throughout the campaign, we drove traffic to our microsite covidcantstopgood.com, where small nonprofit professionals could access all campaign graphics, videos, and resources.
Tens of thousands of small nonprofits responded to our call to show the world how #CovidCantStopGOOD.
With 45,000 uses of the hashtag across all channels, the movement spread organically across the nonprofit community.
Organic influencer involvement also contributed to the growth of the movement, through posts from celebrities like baseball player David Ortiz and Kel Mitchell of Kenan & Kel.
The campaign achieved 33,000 microsite views and 23,000 combined webinar and Facebook Live attendees. Dozens of fundraisers responded to our survey with advice and words of encouragement to others in the sector.
As intended, nonprofits adopted the hashtag and campaign logo to suit their own purposes – they launched #CovidCantStopGOOD food drives, sold shirts with the campaign logo to raise funds, used the hashtag to call for volunteers, and borrowed the campaign messaging as a starting place for conversations with their donors.
Most importantly, the campaign successfully encouraged and supported small nonprofits as they embraced online fundraising to help their charities survive the pandemic. One small nonprofit leader wrote to tell us, “we are super pleased with all of the support Network for Good has provided during COVID time. It has meant a lot. We are slim as far as staff goes so the resources you have provided has gone a long way.” And as another nonprofit put it, “Network for Good…gave us a new battle cry in the way of a hashtag: #CovidCantStopGOOD.”