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COVID-19 Fundraising Toolkit

These are very tough days for all of us, and we face many challenges ahead. But Covenant House has existed as a beacon of hope for more than 40 years because of our incredible community: thousands of quiet heroes, with families and bills and busy lives and joys and sorrows, who decide that young people should not be homeless and alone.

Fundraising is an immediate, powerful way to ensure that our youth continue to receive the care they deserve, but we know it might feel uncomfortable right now. This toolkit will arm you with facts and stories to share, and serve as a guide for how to proceed. Our team of fundraising coaches is also available to help you however we can. 

Contact a fundraising coach:
(212) 727-4990 | [email protected]

Toolkit Index:

  1. How to Start
  2. What to Say
  3. Where to Learn More

How to Start Fundraising

Customize your fundraising page.

Adding a photo and personal note to your fundraising page is always important, because it lets people know immediately that they're in the right place. Now more than ever, though, it is important to explain why you created your fundraising campaign, what that means, and how they can help. 

Here’s how:

  1. Click “Your Page” from the black menu at the top of the screen.
  2. To add a photo, click the pencil icon over the photo avatar and follow the instructions to upload an image.
  3. To add a personal note, click the “My Story” tab under your name and photo, then click the pencil icon in the right corner. 
  4. To customize your page URL, click the “Settings” tab (next to the “My Story” tab). Click the “Customize” link and add your name or initials in the field provided. Be sure to click the blue “Save Changes” button.

Make a list of people you want to ask for support.

Start with a few basic categories and fill in a list for each. For example: immediate family, cousins, childhood friends, college friends, current and former colleagues, neighbors, etc. Include people whom you see less regularly, like a LinkedIn connection, but still may want to hear from you. 

Consider the following questions when making your list: would this person open an email from me? Would I want to hear from them about something they’re passionate about? Is this a cause that they could connect with? Has this person been especially affected by coronavirus? (e.g. have they or their family fallen ill, are they facing any uncertainty with their job?)

Try to identify between 10-20 people. Now may not be the right time to ask some people to support your campaign, and that's ok. By reviewing your list carefully and sorting it into categories, you can feel more confident about sending a message that each group will find meaningful. Remember, many people are looking for ways to give back during this difficult time. 


What to Say in Your Fundraising Appeals

Finding the right words for a fundraising appeal can be tough, especially now. Use the pre-written messages below as a starting point and allow yourself time to add a personal note.

Once you're ready, use email, text, and social media to share your message. Always include your personal URL. Email is usually the most effective (we recommend sending at least 2 as most people need a reminder). Your page is mobile-responsive so when you text your page link in a group chat or to people directly, they can donate directly on their phones.

Social media can allow you to reach a larger audience. Your participant toolkit (available when you log-in) contains images that you can share. Connect a Facebook Fundraiser to your fundraising campaign when you register (or through your Participant Dashboard after you register) and automatically send a notification to all your friends. On Instagram, add your personal URL to your bio.

Sample Messages Menu:

Donation Appeal - Short
Donation Appeal - Long
Donation Appeal - Reminder
Thank You Note
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Your Impact Now
How to Write a Personal Note


Donation Appeal - Short

It might not seem like a privilege to self-quarantine or work from home, especially after a couple of weeks, but not everyone has that option. I have started a fundraising campaign in support of Covenant House, where more than 2,100 young people are being sheltered each night during these scary and trying times. Covenant House is committed to keeping their doors open 24/7 to protect the most vulnerable youth, and I'm committed to helping them. If you can, please consider supporting me with a donation of any amount today. These young people need us now more than ever, and every dollar makes a difference. INSERT PERSONAL URL


Donation Appeal - Long

Young people experiencing homelessness are the most vulnerable among us, not only to something like coronavirus, but to so many other illnesses, both physical and mental, that come directly from the trauma of living on the streets. Covenant House provides them with the life-saving care that they so urgently need, and their doors remain open 24/7 for every young person seeking help.

I am starting a fundraising campaign to help Covenant House continue to keep young people safe during this pandemic. Our support is a lifeline for young people overcoming homelessness. If you can, please consider making a donation of any size in honor of the incredibly resilient young people at Covenant House. The beds are full, and your gift will be put to work immediately to help establish quarantine zones, provide clean linens and three nutritious meals a day for the increased number of youth, and arm front-line staff with critical cleaning and medical supplies. 

Here is the link to my fundraising campaign: INSERT PERSONAL URL

Thank you so much. 


Donation Appeal - Reminder

There is still time to help me reach my my fundraising goal! My fundraising campaign will help shelter young people overcoming homelessness at Covenant House during COVID-19. I am trying to raise another $X AMOUNT REMAINING.

I know that this is a difficult time for everyone, and so much is out of our control. But it has also been a time of people coming together however they can to offer comfort and support. If you're able, please consider making a donation to my campaign. Your support will be an incredible comfort to the young people and staff at Covenant House. No matter the amount, the value of it to these kids who have so little is enormous. Because it’s more than what the money provides it’s a symbol that you care. INSERT PERSONAL URL


Thank You Note

Thank you so much for your donation in support of my fundraising campaign for Covenant House. In this time of uncertainty and anxiety, your gift means that much more to me, and to the youth and staff at Covenant House. 

Covenant House will continue to be open 24/7 for young people facing homelessness. Your gift helps their staff protect and care for every kid who walks through the doors, to keep them healthy, and to meet the many challenges they face. Thank you.

I hope that you stay healthy and safe as well, and know how grateful I am for your support. 


What's Happening at Covenant House

As you talk to your community about Covenant House, some people may want to know more about how life has changed for young people in our care. Here are a few key things to share:

  • Our doors remain open. Last night, over 2,100 young people found safety under a Covenant House roof. Our intake protocol has been revised with help from the CDC and we are prepared to assess and/or test symptomatic youth as a first action before sending them to the local ER. Quarantine spaces have also been established at every shelter.
  • We are focused on ensuring that the youth in our care are safe and secure. In addition to quarantine spaces, we are ensuring a safe distance between beds in all rooms, increasing the frequency of disinfecting common areas, and distributing cleaning and hygiene supplies to youth and staff regularly.
  • We have temporarily suspended all visitors and non-essential staff on-site, and an emergency staffing protocol is in place to ensure front-line coverage while keeping our teams safe.
  • We are providing as much on-site youth programming as possible, including additional mental health programming for youth experiencing anxiety as a consequence of the outbreak.
  • With youth sheltering place, we are seeing increased costs in food and staffing since all youth are in our building 24/7 — these costs are in addition to the staffing and supplies costs associated with the extensive emergency preparedness measures described above.
  • Update from Kevin Ryan, Covenant House President
  • Reflection from Kevin Ryan, Covenant House President

How to Write a Personal Note

If you're not sure how to start your personal note, try asking or answering the following questions:

  • How has the person or group you're asking been affected by the pandemic? How are they holding up?
  • How have you been affected and how are you doing?
  • What made you decide to start a fundraising campaign? What are you hoping to get from the experience? 
  • What's something that has made you feel hopeful recently?

Where to Learn More

Every day brings new developments, new challenges, and new stories. Here are a few ways to stay up to date on how youth at Covenant House are affected by COVID-19:

  • The newsroom on our website is updated daily with new stories from youth, front-line staff, and supporters. 
  • Twitter: follow @CovenantHouse for news from across our federation and follow Covenant House President Kevin Ryan @CovHousePrez for more stories and reflections.
  • Follow Covenant House on Facebook and Instagram for news and photos from across our network of shelters.

Your Impact Now