Fundraising Advice in a Recovering Economy

With the Great Recession officially over, the recovery is another story. Fundraising is still a struggle for non-profit organizations. This struggle comes from all parts of society: individuals, government, foundations and corporations.

The unemployment rate has finally dropped below 10% nation-wide, but underemployment still hovers around 20%, according to a Gallup poll. Many former volunteers are now clients at the organizations they used to help. Many have also stopped charitable giving because of their tight budgets and have cancelled, or cut, planned gifts and bequests.

We can expect the government to make broad cuts in spending, many in grant programs to non-profits, as they try to shore up the federal deficit. We may also face a rise in taxes. Foundations are hesitant to jump back into the stock market and have made fewer funds available for grants to non-profits. Corporations have had to make cuts as well and many have reduced the amount of giving to organizations through corporate contributions, grants and payroll deductions.

Wise strategies for effective fundraising in this economy would be to embrace fundraising, strengthen and stick to your brand and get online.

Embrace Fundraising

Without throwing efficiency to the wind, your organization needs to avoid cutting expenses in fundraising. Typically, the less money you spend on fundraising, the less you will raise. Keep spending on marketing and public relations. If no one knows who you are, they will not give to you. Focus on getting your current donors to give more. Put them in categories by interest or demographic and then approach them in a specific, unique way. Be creative! Challenge them to raise money for you or to compete against each other. Ask for monthly donations or even quarterly gifts.

Strengthen and Stick to Your Brand

Your mission statement should be short and succinct, and yet explain clearly what your organization does. If it can fit on the back of your business card, then you’re probably safe. And then, promote it. Get your message out there, whether it be in newspapers, magazines, radio, T.V., billboards, search engines, conversations – whatever you choose, be consistent with your brand and get your message out. Show that you are a good steward of the money you have received. Check out your competition (other organizations doing it well) and learn from their mistakes and successes. Look at their website, go to their events – see how they show off their uniqueness. Don’t copy them, but let it inspire you to be creative in sharing how your organization is unique. Talk to your volunteers and supporters and get their ideas as well. Lastly, do not exaggerate. Do not over-emphasize the impact you have or oversell the organization. If you misrepresent your organization it can seriously hurt your reputation in the community.

Get Online

It’s not an option anymore. The internet is a prime arena for showing off your organization and sharing your brand and message with the masses. This can be done through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr (for art and photos) and blogs. Social media can help you reach new supporters but also give you an insight into what your donors are thinking. Your website should be updated regularly (once a week is a great goal) and should be “shareable”, with links to connect to the platforms mentioned above. Your website visitors should be able to easily make a donation right on your homepage. You can also ask someone to help you get your webpage high up in the search engines. There’s no specific rule for increasing exposure online, but there may be someone on your staff (or a volunteer) who knows the basics and perhaps some tricks to getting you up there.

For more, check out this article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy by Irwin Stoolmacher.


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2 Responses

  1. Great ways for non-profits to brand their image radio is a really good way if you can get them to run a PSA and most of the social media tools are free. Lastly Google launched several free tools to level the playing field for non-profits.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      It’s refreshing to see a lot of the social media companies becoming more user-friendly for non-profits. Thanks for your input!
      – Sarah

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