How COVID Sparked New Generosity & Support
We spoke with Jennifer Meyer, Executive Director for Options for Women East about how they adapted to change during COVID and found new ways to connect with the community through outlets for generosity and offering a feeling of normalcy.
Options for Women East is a pregnancy medical clinic that empowers women to make informed, educated choices and support them during their entire pregnancy journey. They offer prenatal programs from the beginning of pregnancy and through post-partum. Options for Women East manages their online giving with the all-in-one fundraising platform by Stewardship Technology.
What were some changes you had to make in light of the COVID pandemic?
At the beginning, I think like everyone, we didn’t know what was happening. So we worked with our Medical Director who was following the guidelines put out by the CDC. We had always tried to make our lobby area a very “homey” feel with a coffee bar and food available and all of that had to change. Everything had to become somewhat sterile. From asking the “COVID” questions instead of people just walking in. People wearing mask, etc. We’re in the relationship business so it was very hard at first to try to maintain that feeling. Because everything was constantly changing, we would just have to continually say, “Today” we’re going to do this.
We also found that many single moms with children were being turned away from other centers because they couldn’t bring their children with them. So we provided a way for them to still get the care that they needed. We had clients thank us for letting them come and get an ultrasound because no one else would. People were scared and there was a heavy sense of fear everywhere. We wanted to do the best we could to provide a warm and supportive atmosphere with a sense of normalcy.
Did COVID change how you raised awareness of your cause?
One of the cool things about COVID is now every church and parish were streaming their services. This made it so everyone in their congregation was going to that church’s website for information on where to view the service or to get information they normally would in a bulletin. So because traffic was increasing on the church’s websites, I was able to work with the churches to place ads or even requests for things that we needed directly on the church’s website.
We kept our members consistently up to date via email and through our Facebook. We wanted to make sure people knew we were open. It may be a pandemic but people were still having babies and needed our help.
In fact we delivered the most babies we ever had! 27 babies last year! We also raised more money than we ever had.
Did it change how you raised funding?
We had to quickly change our Spring Gala last year to a virtual one. So we ran everything through YouTube. Although successful, we really missed seeing everyone. This year we are holding a hybrid Gala and people want so badly to sign up first to be able to get an in-person ticket.
We learned that it was best to be specific. For example, we suddenly realized that it would be a good idea to provide flu vaccinations and we had never done that before. We sent out an email to our supporters and to churches letting them know our need and we were blown away by the response. Whatever we asked for whether it was the need for more PPE, hand sanitizer, gloves etc people showed up in amazing ways and we were provided for.
I think there were so many people who felt like, they can’t control COVID, they can’t control things that are happening around them but they can control this. They can control dropping off a box of gloves or giving a check. They could control helping someone out in need. I was just continuously blown away by peoples’ goodness.
Were there any unexpected blessings during this time?
We were continually blown away by donors’ support. I think people were starving to be a part of something so every time we expressed a need, it was always met. We also tried to bring back things that people were familiar with to offer a sense of normalcy. For example, we had a giving tree at a local church during Christmas–we write a need on an ornament and when someone takes an ornament they donate the item that is needed. We could not keep ornaments on the tree and we would get calls from people asking what else they could donate. It was a tangible thing that they could give and control.
We also usually held a Baby Bottle campaign every year in January with a local church. We decided to move forward with it and I think people were so excited to see something that they were familiar with. Something that again, help them feel normal. We ended up raising the most money we ever had through this campaign.
Stimulus checks. People who didn’t need their check would just hand it over to us.
What are the biggest takeaways of COVID that you learned from and will continue to apply?
There are still benefits of having a virtual presence. We now offer additional texting services and Tele-health options. COVID also pushed us toward moving everything to an electronic system. From utilizing online giving more (because banks had weird hours and sometimes were closed) to having electronic forms and surveys. We learned a new unique approach to marketing by creating a story around the need that shows the feeling and depth and the importance of being specific with our needs.
Ultimately, these women need to be served and provided for. We want to give them a positive place to be helped. The generously and goodness of our donors helped us to create this atmosphere and it helped me to restore my faith in humanity.
Stewardship Technology has provided custom technology solutions that help nonprofits fund and fulfill their missions for nearly two decades, serving more than 15,000 faith communities and nonprofits. Through integrations with mission-oriented technology leaders, Stewardship is the preferred donor management platform to more than 435 pregnancy resource centers nationwide.
Contact us to learn more about Stewardship’s online giving platform.