Monday, October 20, 2008

Fundraising in Tough Times

“This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

So first of all let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear. . .is fear itself. . . nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933

Fundraising in Tough Times

When the economy gets tough, people get scared – plain and simple. Google “Fundraising in a recession” and you’ll get 670,000 results.

Advice varies, depending on who is doing the giving. While many nonprofit pundits believe that the best strategy is no strategy – that is, to stay the course of the fundraising basics you’ve been weaned on – others believe you should adapt to the realities of a changing economy, and as quickly as possible.

Frederick S. Lane writes, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, that nonprofits should keep costs down by cutting payroll, sometimes trimming programming, putting together collaborative efforts with other nonprofits, and making general spending cuts.

Is it possible to “stay the course,” survive, even prosper without making cutting either your programming or your staffing?

It is if you learn to work smarter – not harder.

Begin by strengthening your case for support. Does yours read like a mission statement? You need a strong compelling story, preferably real, rather than a composite, with pictures. A story that tugs at the heartstrings and opens wallets. A story that could only be told by your organization.

Annual Appeal? If you’ve got donors who are giving you $1,000, $100, even $25 every year, they’re prime candidates for a monthly giving program. Implement one now. And what rule says you can only mail once a year? Why not twice or even three times a year?
By the way, are you keeping your donors informed? Because if the only time that they hear from you is when you want money …

Understand that foundation giving may be declining. On the other hand, it may not. Is your organization making it a practice to routinely scope out new sources of foundation funding? Develop a system where you’re sending out proposals to new foundations on a weekly basis.

Never ever cut back on development staff during tough times. Do your level best to keep good development staff on board. Know that continuing education is a great motivator and spend a little extra on development workshops and membership organizations. It’ll pay off.

No comments: