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Right now, I’m working on adaptations to charity appeal messaging due to the coronavirus. I know that many charities are struggling with finding the right words to address the pandemic in their communications.

Hence I’ve put together some ideas around communications re the coronavirus. It’s a bit rough and ready but you’ll get the general idea. They’re roughly divided under two headings – acknowledging the impact and alternatives to fear-based messaging.

  1. Acknowledge the impact of coronavirus. I strongly recommend planning your appeals to incorporate some messaging around coronavirus. Try something along these lines.

It’s been a hard few months with the bushfires and now so many people living in fear because of the coronavirus.

But those who are homeless/ living in poverty are among those most at risk. How can you wash your hands when you have no clean water? How can you keep your immune system working when you can’t even get one proper meal a day? That’s why your help is needed to INSERT WORK THAT YOU DO.

Even if your work has nothing to do with coronavirus, I still recommend referencing it. Here’s one way – feel free to steal/ adapt:

I know it’s been a tough time with Australians coming together to help the bushfire-affected. Now the coronavirus, creating havoc with people’s lives, is in our faces every day. You may even be impacted by the pandemic yourself.

But today I ask you to remember a creature that does not receive such prominent attention. In fact, it’s in danger of being forgotten… or going extinct. The jade-eared bilby* is right now facing INSERT ISSUE. This doesn’t go away because of the coronavirus. I know you love animals like the jade-eared bilby and I need your help to INSERT WORK THAT YOU DO.

Whatever your cause, you can still acknowledge the impact of coronavirus while still presenting your needs and asking for support. A full template of how to do this is here.

  1. Alternatives to fear messaging (especially if your appeal is directly related to fighting the coronavirus). Under normal circumstances, I would recommend going hard on fear-based messages. That is, “people could die without your help” which is so often effective in fundraising.

However, because so many of your donors are in the age bracket most likely to be susceptible to coronavirus and are already fearful of the pandemic, it may be appropriate to consider messaging less likely to induce further panic. Other options are below – again feel free to steal, adapt or even combine:

  • Save lives – basically, let’s turn around the “people could die” messaging and make it positive.

Your gift to INSERT WHAT GIFT IS FOR will save lives.


When you give towards INSERT WHAT GIFT IS FOR, you will provide vital life-saving assistance.

  • Pull together as community – I strongly favour this one right now. Because so many people are banding together to help people in their communities – dropping off groceries to the elderly who are self-isolating, raising support for people who have lost work, etc – this is tapping into the desire to help one another and stick together. This will work especially well if your cause is local.

With so much fear surrounding the pandemic, this is a time when I’m asking you to help your local community with INSERT WHAT DONOR’S GIFT WILL DO.


You can do something proactive right now to help those most at risk within your community. Your gift will INSERT IMPACT THE DONOR WILL HAVE.”

  • Here’s the one thing you can do – I believe that many people want to do something to help their friends and neighbours during the pandemic. But they don’t know what to do beyond distributing spare rolls of toilet paper. So make it simple for them.

With your gift, you have the power to INSERT IMPACT. This is one thing you CAN do to help people right here in your local area.

You could also adapt this one if your cause is not coronavirus related.

I know it’s a time of stress with the coronavirus dominating the news. But while we can’t do anything about the pandemic, here’s the one thing you CAN do to alleviate the stress on this endangered population of jade-eared bilbies*. Your gift will INSERT IMPACT THE DONOR WILL HAVE.”

I hope this helps your charity or gives you some ideas on how to approach your messaging. But above all, don’t stop communicating your needs to your donors. Yes, some activities will have to stop, change or go online. But direct mail, impact reports and emails don’t have to stop. After all, your loyal donors gave to you because they cared about your cause. Keep showing them why their ongoing support matters.

Also see this other article re the coronavirus fundraising response.

* The jade-eared bilby is a fictional animal made up for this article.

Click here for FREE coronavirus appeal templates.

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