In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we want to provide nonprofit organizations with resources they may find helpful as they navigate a time of uncertainty.
In this blog post, we’re sharing our tips for how to communicate with your audience, as well as including email examples from nonprofits and other companies so you can see what others are doing.
Coronavirus Communication Tips for Nonprofits
Here are some things we recommend keeping in mind when reaching out to your constituents:
If you have an event coming up or need to share another change that affects donors, don’t wait until you make the decision to reach out to them. People want transparency; they don’t want to wonder. Even if you don’t have a definitive answer for them, it’s enough to just reach out and say, “This is where we’re at right now, and we’ll share more once we have more information.”
Know that their inboxes may be overloaded.
You’ve probably seen this in your own work and personal inboxes. It seems like every organization you’ve donated to and every business you’ve ever set foot in are reaching out to let you know what they’re doing in light of the outbreak. With that in mind, evaluate if what you’re sending them is necessary. If it’s not urgent, you may want to hold off for now.
Keep your tone appropriate for the situation.
If you take a look at the emails in your inbox, you’ll likely notice the somber or serious tone they employ. Think about how jarring it would be to get an overly upbeat email right now. It just wouldn’t feel right given the circumstances. When drafting your emails, social media posts, or website updates, think about how you can communicate your message in a sensitive way.
You never know who is going to open your emails or read your posts. Some of the people may be worried about loved ones or the stock market. Some of them may be newly unemployed. Some of them may be sick and stressed. This isn’t the time to lean into some trendy marketing strategy or to try to shock people into donating. It may not even be the best time to share heavy stories about your work. Think about the human beings on the other side of the computer or phone and how you can communicate with them during these stressful times.
Looking for examples of how to communicate during this time? Below we’ve also included some of the emails we’ve received from nonprofits, as well as from some businesses.
Coronavirus Response Email Examples from Nonprofits & Businesses
Nonprofit Email Examples
We love this simple and meaningful update from Naomi’s Village. They did a great job of clearly explaining how the coronavirus is affecting their community and offered ways their audience can support them during this time.
Nashville was recently affected by devastating tornadoes. The Nashville Food Project made a point to acknowledge that this has been a couple of hard weeks for their community. We love how they talked about their mission and what changes now that they can’t bring people together in one physical location.
The Lymphatic Education & Research Network took the opportunity to highlight their own health crisis in the midst of the pandemic, as well as how the coronavirus affects the population they’re serving.
This email from The Metropolitan Opera tugs on the heartstrings and appeals to its audience’s love and appreciation of art. The note at the beginning – “the show simply couldn’t go on” – is particularly poignant and will resonate with anyone who is missing this type of entertainment in their life right now.
This is also a great example of showing how we’re all in this together. By reinforcing that they’re also cutting costs (including the General Manager’s decision to take no salary), they’re making it clear that the audience’s help is also needed to secure The Metropolitan Opera’s future.
This is a longer email, one in which Poverty and the Arts cover important ground. First, they explain that they’re closing their space in order to comply with social distancing recommendations. They then explain what they’re going to do for their artists now that they can’t provide that safe space for them to gather.
This lets them transition seamlessly into the next part of the email: letting supporters know how they can help POVA during this time. This is a smart way to share a lot of content, including the information at the bottom that their audience might find useful.
Business Email Examples
In recent days, countries have closed borders and airlines have discussed cutting down on the number of flights or halting travel. But what do you do if your business is to promote cheap flight deals?
Scott’s Cheap Flights decided to continue sending those deals–with a caveat. They put together a resource page, which they linked to at the top of their email. They also made the decision to only send dates from July onward and to prioritize those with flexible change/cancellation policies. This is a great, thoughtful way to serve their audience in light of what must be a stressful time for their team.
Although some cities are closing movie theaters, other cities are allowing them to remain open. AMC Theaters sent out this email to let their customers know what to expect now that we’re being advised not to congregate in groups, which includes a change in seating capacity. We especially love that they acknowledged at the beginning of the email that their audience is most likely receiving many updates like this one.
Ellevest is an investment advisor that is committed to helping women start investing. They send out weekly “What the Elle” emails with links and resources for the audience. We loved how this recent one addressed market volatility, including what that is and how Ellevest takes that into account.
We hope these email examples provide you with a framework of how you can move forward and communicate with your audience in the days and weeks ahead.
Looking for more? You can find more resources and links on our Coronavirus Resources for Nonprofit Organizations page.
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