May 3, 2020

Keep in Touch: Staying Connected to Donors and Supporters


As the NY-Pause orders took effect in March, we shared
tips about staying in front of donors and supporters.  While much has changed in the past seven weeks, what has stayed consistent is the need to keep connected to donors and supporters.  In this newsletter we are following up on our earlier guidance - which still stands - with more up-to-date advice and examples.

Nearly every reporter is covering COVID-related stories. And nearly every nonprofit has a story that's worth telling. See our sample clips below to get a sense of the range of stories being reported, beyond the numbers and the political squabbling.

Reporters and media outlets are hungry for content and looking for new angles to report. And, as stories shift to focus on re-openings and recovery, reporters will continue to seek stories. Don't miss out on your chance to get your organization and your message out.

Beyond having stories to share with current supporters to keep them informed about your work, press stories provide a great way to reach new audiences. We have seen our clients gain new supporters - and more importantly, donations - as a result of a news story.

Check out this example from Alliance for Positive Change.

Social Media

Social media provides an ongoing way to keep your network informed about how you are managing through this crisis, continuing to provide services, supporting people, or entertaining them.

Social media also offers a great vehicle to thank current and past supporters.  We help our clients do both.

Two things make social media posts more successful: tagging people and including photos. We recommend asking staff that may still be working to capture photos as often as they can.

Visit BronxWorks' Facebook page for some fantastic examples.


Email open rates during the pandemic are up. That's, perhaps, not surprising.  We're running around less, sitting around more. Take advantage of people's willingness to read emails by staying in regular touch - perhaps twice a month, or maybe even every week.

But, keep your content interesting and short. Tell people about what you are doing, how your participants are faring, and what support you may need. And, use images to tell your story.

Check out this example of a Project Renewal newsletter.


Sometimes press is not an option, and sometimes you have more to say than can be succinctly posted on social media. In those cases, blogs could offer a good alternative to tell your story, tell it thoroughly, and get it out to target stakeholders by linking the content to social media, inserting a snippet in an e-newsletter, or highlighting it on the home page of your website.

Regardless of how you share your blogs, keep them short, moving and visual.

Here's a good example from Breakthrough New York.

This Tuesday, May 5, 2020 we come together as a global community... To give. To help. To thank. To heal.  #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of generosity and unity, a day to come together and give back in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, no matter who or where we are.

Whether you give your voice, goods, your time, or your money, let's come together to support nonprofits in need. Learn more about #GivingTuesdayNow.

Pitching Notes

Mark Hallum
Transit Reporter

Tell us about your background - was it always in journalism?
I originally studied history and archaeology at my hometown University in Arizona, but late in my academic career I decided I would rather pursue journalism. But it was a while before I began working in the field full-time. I spent most of my teens and 20s working for my father in his gas station back home.
What was your first taste of journalism?
I pitched a story to a small archaeology magazine about the Syrian civil war; not about the human cost, but the cultural cost of the Islamic State's quest to destroy or sell antiquities of the area and professors tasked by the State Department to save ancient relics.
What brought you to NYC?
At the risk of sounding trite, I think I really needed to get out of northern Arizona. I lived in the biggest small town for hundreds of miles and just wanted to find more in life. I was well-read and well-travelled enough to know what was out there, I just wanted to live it. So one day, I packed a duffle bag and hopped on a plane. What I expected to be a short trip followed by failure turned into something else entirely.
Tell us AMNY Metro and the types of stories you cover.
amNewYork Metro is a commuter paper, so I like to think I have the most important job in the newsroom (though that can and should be written off as grandiose thinking). I write about what the government is doing or not doing for the people of New York in facilitating the most basic economic necessity: getting to work, and getting there on time.
I also have a love for local politics, especially in New York City where everything has a profound political bent to it. When I first started working for TimesLedger in Queens, four years ago, I covered one local political race and my editor just kept assigning me to other campaigns.
Where do you get your ideas and what interests you?
I like to observe how people's interests guide their action and how that action often creates friction with other groups. I think the issues that spur change and the ensuing conflict is fundamental in a good story.
Amid this pandemic, coverage has changed a lot. What stories do you look for now?
I'm only half joking when I say I'm an outdoor cat. I just prefer to be in the field. I feel as though COVID-19 has not changed the types of stories I look for so much as how I communicate with people.
What is your typical day like now?
Whereas my typical day usually revolves around getting to where the story is happening and taking photos (which is another love of mine), it's evolved into getting up, making breakfast, and then trying to rub two sticks together to start a fire in my living room.
What are your pet peeves about pitches that come your way?
I wouldn't say I have any real pet peeves about story pitches. I always appreciate when someone wants to test my interest in something that matters to them. But I do get a lot of emails from PR folks who don't really do their homework on what beats I cover. I try to politely let them know that I'm not the droid they're looking.
What are your hobbies?
Photography and music are two things I find essential to my emotional well-being. I still use my grandpa's old Canon FTb from the early 70s and play an old Gibson guitar. But I also love reading, especially books on different historical themes as well as fiction. I'm also a huge cinephile.
How can people get in touch with you?
My personal email is my most direct line short of texting me:

I'm also embarrassingly active on Instagram and Twitter: makusan_hallum or @markuusan respectively.

Public Works Partners is offering a pro bono organizational health assessment to nonprofits. This assessment, The COVID-19 Edition of Nonprofit Tune-Up, is a web-based tool designed to provide you with an in-depth analysis of your organization's financial and administrative health, addressing recent changes to workflow, staffing, and revenue stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic so you can be as prepared as possible as you strategize your organization's next steps.   Discover more here.

Nonprofits in the News
During the coronavirus pandemic, all nonprofits are faced with unprecedented challenges. Our clients are working tirelessly to serve their clients, and our dedicated team has been connecting them with the media so they can share their stories.

AARP New York

The Alliance for Positive Change
Gay City News
Amida Care
New York Daily News
PBS Newshour
The Children's Village
Associated Press
NY foster agency prepares for kids of the pandemic

Citizens Union
New York Daily News

Community Access
ABC News
Community Resource Exchange
Covenant House
PBS Newshour Weekend

Day One
Spectrum News NY1

Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership

Flushing Town Hall
Untapped Cities 

Girl Scouts of Greater New York
AM New York
Institute for Community Living
Spectrum News NY1

Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
WABC-7 Eyewitness News
Coronavirus News: Charity feeding Holocaust survivors in NYC amidcoronavirus pandemic

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene 
Los Angeles Times

Plymouth Church

Project Renewal
USA Today

Queens Chamber of Commerce


Women Creating Change
Workers Circle
Jewish Standard