Fast Work Raises Funds for Disaster Response


Is your organization prepared?

If not, create a plan now.

As we approach fall, many fundraisers are preparing for the year-end fundraising season, but for some, there is another important season to prepare for – hurricane season. If your organization serves an area directly affected by hurricanes, then you should have an emergency fundraising plan in place. That way, if a storm hits and the program staff are on the ground providing food, shelter and hope to those in need, the development team will have a plan to raise funds in that crucial window when the media and donor’s attention is peaking.

Time is of the essence in an emergency appeal. The sooner your organization can solicit these gifts, the better. We recently saw this with Upbring and their Disaster Relief Appeal for Hurricane Harvey last fall. This appeal was able to provide prompt communication to their donor base as it mailed two days after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas. The timeliness of this solicitation allowed Upbring to capitalize on their donor’s awareness of the hurricane and yielded a strong response.

Another great tool for an emergency campaign is a text-to-give solicitation. This strategy allows for prompt and easy donations and interactions with these donors. According to Nonprofits Source, the average donation for a text-to-donate campaign is $107, so donors are being very generous using this donation tool. Our client, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, saw success utilizing a text-to-give campaign to provide their donors and prospects with a quick, actionable way to donate last fall when they were raising funds for multiple disasters. While their disaster relief teams were helping people affected by multiple hurricanes and wildfires, this tool allowed for prompt giving that boosted overall response.

So, is your organization prepared?

If not, create a plan now.

·      Outline a communications plan for mail, email and social media with steps and guidelines for staff.

·      Talk with your IT team to find out how quickly a new donation page can be built, or create a generic emergency appeal page to have ready.

·      Be aware of the crowdfunding and mobile technology available in case you need to start a campaign.

·      Set aside money in the budget for emergency print and digital needs.

·      And create a plan for how your team will continue to work if your office and homes are affected by the storm as well (for example, can your development team work from home?).

These emergency appeals can also apply to other “hot” topics in the media, whether stories are buzzing around immigration, hunger, overcrowding at an animal shelter or other natural disasters such as wildfires, your supporters may feel compelled to do something about it immediately. So, no matter the focus of your organization, you should get a plan in place.

If you’d like help developing an emergency fundraising plan, please contact us at to get started.

John Payne