Charitable giving in Canada has decreased across provinces and territories over the past several years – and the U.S. has seen similar challenges. While there have been small increases year-over-year in the U.S., both countries are now encountering the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic in different public health and economic capacities. While the projections for charitable giving remain uncertain, declining giving rates are possible.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Crossroads International, a leading Canadian volunteer cooperation organization, operated in six countries in Africa – Burkina Faso, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Ghana, Togo, Senegal and Tanzania – where Canadian volunteers worked alongside community-based organizations to build capacity in support of women’s and girls’ livelihoods. Under their Voluntary Cooperation Program, volunteers collaborate and share their skills with established local partners to eradicate poverty, address the lack of representation of women in government and leadership roles, end gender-based violence and female genital mutilation, promote and ensure food security, and empower women’s economic autonomy and income generation. As a testament to the value of two-way learning, Crossroads International additionally supports exchanges between African partners as well as facilitating volunteer placements in Canada to leverage skills both South and North. Through this mutual exchange of ideas and resources across continents and cultures, organizations in Africa and Canada are able to build the capacity needed to enact lasting change in support of women and girls.

The Crossroads International team approached Global Impact early in 2020 to bolster their fundraising and outreach efforts. As part of our initial scope of work, Global Impact’s team developed strategic fundraising assessment and recommendations for Crossroads International to increase annual revenue and diversify its funding sources. Understandably, once the pandemic reached North America and Africa, Crossroads International’s in-person volunteer model needed to evolve, opening additional opportunities for e-volunteering. With community partners witnessing increases in violence against women and girls, economic instability, and food insecurity alongside the closure of schools, an already pressing need for resources and support became all the more critical. Crossroads International looked to Global Impact to shift the strategy and development plan amidst the ever-changing and challenging landscape that lay before them.

As part of Crossroads International’s program evolution during COVID-19, the “Crossroader” moniker itself needed to evolve, too. Crossroaders volunteer, donate, and advocate in support of the rights and empowerment of women and girls. This Crossroader community includes former and prospective volunteers, donors, Crossroads staff and Board members, and advocates of the organization, its mission, and its vision. Crossroaders are part of the movement to combat gender-based violence (GBV), end female genital mutilation (FGM), and empower women through political and social leadership and economic autonomy.

Developing a campaign amidst COVID-19
Without a timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine or the safe resumption of volunteer mandates, Crossroads International has worked to determine how they can continue to support their community partners in the face of a devastating pandemic, especially in areas where poverty pervades daily life, and where inter-African trade for resources and income generation has ground to a halt. In search of a solution, Crossroads International turned to Global Impact to build upon the initial fundraising and public engagement recommendations made earlier this year and adapt them from an in-person campaign to a virtual one.

With the abrupt end to in-person events, fundraisers and information sessions, the deployment of a virtual campaign, supported by collateral materials to be used online, will allow Crossroads International to adapt and build a movement around the rights of women and girls. Furthermore, through the launch of this virtual campaign, Crossroads International will be able to reengage its Crossroader community; profile the impact of volunteer cooperation on partner organizations, beneficiaries and volunteers themselves; and inspire interested Canadians to join the movement and become a Crossroader, volunteering, advocating and donating in support of women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment.

The must-haves for a virtual campaign
When developing a virtual campaign, it is of the utmost importance to consider how individuals are most likely to engage with your organization amidst the pandemic. In the case of Crossroads International, an organization with a robust social media presence and well-developed digital footprint, our team took into consideration their three main calls to action: volunteer, donate, and advocate. With e-volunteering opportunities, the ability to donate and start fundraising teams online, and the growth of social media advocacy and information sharing, the materials produced for Crossroads International can be leveraged by each of these audiences to share online and across platforms to tell a compelling story and demonstrate an urgent call to action. The scope of materials developed for the Crossroads International campaign include:

  • Virtual interviews with volunteers, Board members and community partners in the form of testimonial video vignettes, showcasing the Crossroader community’s diversity of perspectives and experiences.
  • Hero videos with calls to action that focus on Crossroads International’s impact areas, mission and vision.
  • Social media videos and posts to recruit volunteers and garner additional support for Crossroads International, its programs, and its beneficiaries.
  • Infographics that demonstrate the impact of the charity’s programs and initiatives.
  • An online Story Wall to host the interviews, hero videos and infographics, as well as self-submitted testimonial videos by Crossroaders.
  • Toolkits and other resources to inform the broader public and prospective corporate partners about how they can support involvement with Crossroads International.
  • A Case for Support that explains Crossroads International’s mission, vision, values, and the need for volunteer, donor, and advocate support during COVID-19, as well as engages new and diverse stakeholders in this global movement.
  • Postcards for both virtual and physical distribution via mail to engage with Crossroads International volunteers, donors, and advocates in Canada and around the world.
  • Internal resources for campaign management

Is your organization considering launching a virtual campaign while navigating the pandemic? Think of how your existing audience has engaged with your organization in the past and ask yourself the following questions:

  • On social media, does your audience engage more with video content, links, images or text posts?
  • Are you lacking materials that peer organizations use? If so, what are these materials, and how can your organization tell your story through them?
  • Do your existing materials relate to your audience during times of crisis? How can they be adapted or replaced to engage your followers while acknowledging challenges that they may be facing?
  • Is your organization demonstrating sufficient and urgent need for support during the pandemic, and how can you convey to your audience the impact of their support?

For more information about how your organization can engage employees and develop your own campaign during COVID-19, we invite you to visit our Virtual Employee Giving Hub.

Revenue diversification amid COVID-19
In addition to the development of a global engagement campaign and collateral materials, Global Impact supported Crossroads International in the identification of strategies and best practices to engage the private sector around employee engagement, volunteerism, fundraising matches, workplace giving and corporate partnership. Through future partnerships with the private sector, Crossroads International will be able to build relationships with corporations to engage their employees as volunteers, as well as diversify revenue sources and gain visibility and co-branding recognition.

How can other charities and nonprofit organizations approach revenue diversification during these times?
As corporate social responsibility efforts have expanded over recent years, your organization can seek to diverse its revenue through developing private sector partnerships. By co-branding with your corporate partner, you will increase awareness for your work and impact areas. When considering how your organization can improve upon or develop relationships with the private sector, first think of your own priorities and goals, and then ask yourself:

  • What is your organization seeking to gain from this relationship?
  • What will the corporate partner gain from this relationship?
  • Which values does your organization hold that resonate with those of the corporate partner?
  • How will the partnership ultimately support your community and beneficiaries?

Partnerships and revenue diversification allow your organization to grow and support more individuals where you work and within your impact areas. Through increasing your own capacity to provide resources and support social impact, your organization is able to increase efficacy and impact and improve the lives of those with whom you work.

If you are looking to grow your global reach, launch donor initiatives and boost your fundraising performance with customized services, Global Impact can help.

Learn more about partnering with us to boost your social impact and achieve your goals by contacting our team.