Founders’ Guide to Thrive: Fundraising Post-COVID

Presented in partnership with Intuit Circles

<a href="">Money vector created by studiogstock -</a>

With all that has gone down in 2020, it is certain that the aftershocks of the pandemic are going to be felt across the ecosystem for time to come. One feature that has drastically changed is Fundraising, an important aspect to keep the company running. Here are some things you want to keep in mind while raising funds post COVID:

Money wise, where are you at?

Carry out an analysis of your funding models and projections of cash flow to better understand where you might take a possible hit. This will also help you identify gaps in your business so you can make informed decisions for future funding.

Futureproof your Business

Review your current services and programs while also evaluating your fundraising plan. It is also understandable that your funds are drying up, as you might be diverting them to the crisis at hand. Your financial forecast will predict you running out of money before you know it, and that’s okay. A proper evaluation will help you make better decisions for the future of your business.

How can you create more impact?

Evaluation is key. Identify your strengths and weaknesses- see if you can combine new technology and leverage your strengths to reach and engage a wider audience. Consider the case of the New York Times- they implemented a successful subscription strategy after realising that digital was killing the traditional media arena. In 2017, they made almost USD$500M in purely digital revenue.

That having been said, do not rush into something- especially if it’s new. If you do go down this route, then you will need to re-budget and anticipate shortfalls. Also, keep in mind that some funders are actively looking for opportunities to support people in the short/medium term.

Look at this situation as an opportunity- you can now try and seek alternative solutions for the long run. As a fundraiser, your eagerness to learn is a clear indicator of leadership qualities. There’s no loss in learning new things, they will help you build a coherent and solid plan to ensure more impact.

Build your case!

Now that you’ve done enough evaluation, capitalise on your evaluation. Demonstrate to your investors that you understand the need of the market and how to address it (Read Sowmya Murthy’s blog on Customer Development here to know more). Be transparent with what you’re going to do with the money, as it helps to provide reassurance and further consolidates your stance. They need to believe in you, so use data to validate your intentions and convince your funders/investors/donors that you deserve the funds you’re asking for and that you’re the right person to believe in.

Relook your donor/investor engagement plan

Although times are bleak and challenging, do not mistake this as a time where there is no funding available. It is also understandable that your usual investor base is going to be under massive financial stress. If you’re able to understand your situation and what you want to do, your environment will seem less daunting and you can pivot accordingly. Of course, this also means that you’re being reasonable in your asks- and are adequately engaging your current and prospective donors.

Speak to your current funders

In this fairly lengthy and ongoing process, do not forget your current funders. It helps to maintain and strengthen your relationship with them as they can bring in effective strategies and also build connections with your targeted community.

Build relationships with prospective funders

You will often see announcements being made along the lines of ‘XYZ will be giving $10Mn to organisations working towards tackling the pandemic’ nowadays. This is a regular feature of most crises. Here, you want to see if you’re actually eligible and then begin a relationship with the funder. 

In some cases, if you’re going through someone (a Board Member, a Philanthropic Community, etc.) you can reap a little more success thanks to pre-established relationships. 

In times of crisis, you want to ensure diversity in your fundraising efforts- it is key to sustainability. Diverse revenue streams do better in crisis situations.

Communication & Collaboration

What do your marketing strategies look like? What channels are you using to communicate? Are you using any crowdfunding platforms- what message is going out there? You can use platforms like LinkedIn to generate support from the business community. The digital world is important to fundraising at the moment, it opens up multiple doors for fundraising and new donors. 

Your messaging needs to be empathetic but also concise. A keyword being used for everything right now is “essential”, try and use the word in whatever capacity you can. For example, “COVID changed the landscape for many of us. It wiped out small businesses, the lifeblood of our economy. Your contributions are essential to their growth and sustenance; Donate here:”

People are more likely to believe what they see, so we can safely say that the future of fundraising is video. Document what you’re doing and show what you need money for and what you’re going to do with it for maximum impact.

You also need to learn to productively collaborate with government organizations, philanthropists, businesses/corporations. But most importantly, you need to be able to collaborate with your community. Your community of fellow entrepreneurs who are going through the same thing as you. We’d recommend joining Intuit Circles, a strategic startup ecosystem engagement initiative by Intuit, that facilitates business growth and knowledge for startups through smart-tech.

Thank you so much for reading, if you’d like to learn effective cash flow management- click here.

Contributed by:
Sanskriti Bhatnagar
Headstart Network Foundation