Advancing Nonprofit Capacity

It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times…to Raise Money

Thanks to JWS Associate Lisa Ovenden for today’s blog.

Raising money in in economic and political hard times is something those of us in “the development business” have been dealing with for many years. And, of late, political and economic landmines are cropping up everywhere, especially on social media. Wouldn’t it be nice to go one day without having to read about “the right and the left”? “Fake news”? “real news”? and on and on. There’s no doubt that these are the times that try men’s souls. So, given all of that, how do we overcome all of the noise and help our donors and prospects focus on their philanthropic relationships?
Joanne Fritz authored an article for the online publication, “The Balance”, titled, “The Nonprofit Hard Times Survival Guide Is Your Charity Ready to Ride Out Any Economic or Political Storm?” (November, 2016). In that article, Fritz offers nine suggestions for operating a fundraising effort when philanthropy may play a distant third to other pressing issues on the minds and in the hearts of your constituents. She suggests:
1.       Don’t pull back on fundraising – you should not retreat, you should be even more focused in your efforts. Sharpen your case and cultivate your donors without apology.
2.       Let your donors know that those you help are in more need than ever – demand for services non-profits provide increase during uncertain times.
3.       Find stories that will touch the hearts of your donors – stories always win over sheer data. Use testimonials.
4.       Stay in touch with people who have stopped giving – Keep in touch with lapsed donors. Yu want them to have a relationship with you when they can again afford to give.
5.       Find new donors by looking in un expected places – broaden your donor base. Some types of businesses are recession proof. Look where other non-profits are not looking.
6.       Take the opportunity to lower fundraising costs – double down on online giving appeals and maybe, just maybe, reconsider your event schedule.
7.       Cut costs sensibly – cut the extraneous and focus on what impacts the core mission.
8.       Take a new look at projects you intended to raise money for – Think, rather, about services that go on in spite of the economy or that even intensify. Focus your fundraising efforts on those.
9.       Look for partners – There may be safety in numbers. Instead of competing with other charitable organizations, think about partnering instead.  Consider teaming up for a grant proposal. Foundations welcome this kind of cooperation.
As Fritz says, hard times call for thinking out of the box. I think that NOW is as good a time as any to try that!

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