Stacey Schwab, Account Director  ●  5/29/2020

How One Division Engages Donors Through a Pandemic

The Ringer Fundraising Featured Image Metropolitan COVID response

The Metropolitan Division aids neighbors affected by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 across Chicagoland, Northern Illinois, and Northwest Indiana. 


Before the COVID-19 pandemic reached American shores, The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division — serving Chicagoland, Northern Illinois, and Northwest Indiana — was already working behind the scenes to help those who would be most affected by the crisis.

From January through mid-March, in the early stages of the pandemic, the Metropolitan’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) was providing thousands of snacks and bottles of water to passengers who had been undergoing screening by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at O’Hare International Airport.

As the pandemic spread, the Division leaned into their mission of Doing the Most Good and jumped right in to help those in need.  And by March 21, The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division was designated as the lead agency for Chicago mass care in coronavirus response.

“The health and safety of the people we serve is our top priority.  We are here to provide hope and help to our neighbors in Chicagoland during this uncertain time,” said Commissioner Barry Swanson, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division.  “With 29 sites in our Division, we are uniquely positioned to meet the needs from COVID-19 in each community.  And, we are prepared to serve for as long as it takes.”

But as you know, the ability for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division to help their neighbors in need relies on the generous support of donors in their community.


In order for The Salvation Army to fulfill their mission of Doing the Most Good, they needed heroic hearts to think of The Salvation Army and give to help their neighbors in need.  In order to engage donors and prospects, The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division:

  • Immediately shifted all emails to COVID-19 content (appeals, stories, etc.).
  • Increased their investment in digital marketing (display, social, YouTube).
  • Sent PSA announcements and talking points to TV stations and radio partners.
  • Leveraged relationships with the city of Chicago, the NFL and Chicago Bears, NBC, and outdoor advertising partners to increase awareness of the need in Chicagoland, and communicate how donors can help.
  • Created two COVID-19-specific blog posts each week.
  • Applied for all grants available.
  • Participated in #GiveFromHomeDay and “Giving Tuesday Now”
  • Ramped up peer-to-peer fundraising efforts across the Division.

These are just some of the many strategies that the Metropolitan Division used to activate their donors’ heroic hearts.  Because of their integrated multichannel fundraising, the Metropolitan Division is prepared to assist for as long as necessary.  And we’ll keep these donor marketing efforts going to ensure they can continue helping those most in need.


How are you engaging donors during this crisis?  Let us know and you might be featured in a future The Ringer article.


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