RESOURCES  |  April 2, 2020

A conversation: Cathy Sheffield on nonprofit outreach during the Coronavirus crisis

Written by FreeWill

Planned giving thought leader, Cathy Sheffield, and Patrick Schmitt, the co-CEO of FreeWill, discuss the Coronavirus crisis and how nonprofits can communicate more thoughtfully and effectively during this time.



Cathy R. Sheffield, CAP®, CFRE, CSPG, FCEP, is on a mission to help nonprofits raise more planned and major gifts. She is a nationally recognized planned giving thought leader with 25 years experience in healthcare and higher education.


From the moment you meet Cathy, you will recognize her enthusiasm for her work, appreciate her collaborative method for achieving results for both donors and nonprofit organizations alike, and welcome her sense of humor. She serves on the American Council on Gift Annuities Board of Directors, is the current President of the Fort Worth Metro Chapter of AFP and was the 2017 Board Chair of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners. Cathy is a faculty member of the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies which administers the Certified Specialist in Planned Giving designation program.


Find out more about Cathy’s work at


In this casual conversation, Patrick and Cathy discuss creative ideas for donor outreach as well as how nonprofits can make the most of new planned giving opportunities during this crisis.


Jump to:

  • 2:05 — Patrick and Cathy discuss the new, innovative ways they’re virtually meeting up with friends and family
  • 6:55 — Why nonprofits may want to prioritize donor stewardship and empathy
  • 8:54 — Tips for repurposing underutilized staff as fundraisers
  • 12:03 — How planned giving teams can make the most of a surging interest in online estate planning
  • 14:17 — Creative ideas for thoughtful, personal donor outreach
  • 18:05 — The new normal: How nonprofits can rethink events in 2020 
  • 23:11 — How nonprofits can turn the Coronavirus crisis into new opportunities 
  • 26:40 — Cathy’s overarching message to the planned and major giving community for how they should approach donor outreach