Continuing to Engage with Your Donors and Community Supporters During COVID-19

By Cynthia Parker

Every day CAC leaders and their staffs are forging ahead in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, navigating around a whole new set of obstacles in serving children and families: figuring out how to manage caseloads with reduced staffs so as to keep everyone safe, learning how to deliver services via video conference, working remotely, keeping partner agencies connected at this chaotic time, and so much more. Yet another challenge that is emerging involves the inability to fundraise and, for many CACs, having to cancel various community engagement activities designed to raise money and awareness of the CAC and its work, particularly those activities that had been originally planned for Child Abuse Prevention Month. This article is meant to provide some ideas for you as you think about how to stay connected with donors and community supporters, particularly if your CAC has had to cancel or postpone events during this crisis, and to let your community know how you are continuing to serve children and families during this challenging time. 

In the best of times, communication strategies can include regularly connecting with donors and community supporters, sharing your CAC’s mission and story, giving a prospective supporter an up close and personal look at the impact their gift can have, planning fundraising events, and partnering with other local organizations to support various community causes and services. Now, CACs have to re-think how to accomplish the end goals of raising funds and awareness but do so remotely rather than in person. This is still possible, however. After all, effective fundraising and communication, at its core, is simply building relationships and sharing opportunities to change lives.

As you think about your CAC and community, here are some ideas to consider:

  1. A personal letter to current donors and supporters to share what work your agency is doing in this time of crisis to support children and families.
  2. Handwritten notes to your major donors with references to work that is occurring at your agency, which will resonate with them on a personal level.
  3. An email or e-newsletter letting your audience know how you are still serving families, including relevant information on changing office hours and possible opportunities for virtual support.
  4. Quick videos (maybe two minutes) on your social media platforms with parenting tips, prevention tips, and advice for emotional regulation and resiliency.
  5. Sharing posts, stories, live streams, and links on social media that provide resources for parents at home with their kids.
  6. Phone calls with major donors to check in and see how they are doing; you don’t have to mention your agency at all. Just checking in with someone with whom you have a relationship can go a long way in strengthening rapport.
  7. Continue sending acknowledgement letters as you receive donations. Consider a handwritten note to let your donors know you are still helping children. 

(It is important to keep in mind that federal grant funds cannot be used to conduct fundraising activities.)

While we may not be able to continue our normal means of engaging with our community, we can still maintain and strengthen existing relationships, reminding our community that we are still here to serve children and families now and after this crisis.
Cynthia Parker is the Development Director at the
National Children's Advocacy Center.
From our Western Regional partner:

COVID-19 Telemental Health Resource Center

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many CACs and clinicians are transitioning to telemental health to maintain essential services. A new page is now live on WRCAC’s Telemental Health Resource Center that includes vital resources and information specific to CACs and clinicians transitioning to telemental health during COVID-19. 
Welcome to Tennessee's New State Chapter Director!
In April 2020, the Children's Advocacy Centers of Tennessee welcomed Marcus Stamps as the new Executive Director for the state Chapter.

Marcus served as the Executive Director of Davis House Child Advocacy Center for nine years after having served on the organization’s board of directors. He had previously worked in the financial services industry and in institutional advancement. Davis House serves a four county area in middle Tennessee, including Williamson, Hickman, Lewis and Perry counties and had three center locations. During his tenure, Davis House had served over 4,600 new children.

Prior to accepting his new role as Executive Director of the state Chapter, Marcus served on its board of directors for six years.

Core Training Schedule for 2020
Medical/Legal Training Academy
 *Postponed indefinitely*
Due to travel restrictions and safety concerns due to COVID-19, Medical/Legal Training Academy originally scheduled for May 2020 has been postponed indefinitely. Check for updates.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
TF-CBT will train mental health professionals on the evidence-based psychotherapy approach designed to treat traumatic stress in children and adolescents.

August 19-21

What Executive Directors Need to Know About Direct Service Provision
*Moving online*
Led by NCAC staff, this training will cover the essential information that CAC EDs need to have to effectively develop, manage, and expand direct services, particularly when EDs may not have the subject matter expertise in all these areas.

Due to safety concerns due to COVID-19, this in-person training will be converted to online modules.

More information coming soon!
This publication is funded through grant #2019-CI-FX-K003 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components, operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this publication (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).