Fact is no one knows for certain. But the facts can be very instructive. This is not the first tough economic period the U.S. has experienced and it won’t be the last. To be accurate, giving in gross dollars to charity has risen nearly every year since 1955, with only one year seeing a decline. And during that time the economy has seen some struggles.
Many suggest that this is a particularly tough time not only because of the drop in the stock market but the rising unemployment rate. Together these are a bad mix and it would be hard to argue that. Some have hypothosized that we are also in an election year which will reflect negatively on giving across the sector.
Well, here are some facts…the USA Today recently published an article comparing YTD results of stock market performance since the great depression. The largest market drop measured by % decline in a 12 month period was 1999-2000 when the market dropped 49%. To date, 2007-2008 the drop is about 30%. In 2000 giving increased. Will it also increase in 2008?
In 1999-2000 there was also a presidential election. Giving increased. Will it in 2008?
Most Americans are not invested in the stock market, so does a drop really impact their wealth? Does a drop in the market decrease real wealth or decrease the overall gain made when investing?
Okay, you win there are a lot of questions leaving us to guess. I think giving will increase again, after all one thing we can agree on is this…if the economy is truly bad then the services we provide are more needed than ever and Americans can relate to that!
I know. I know. There was a time when even the US Post Office did not exist. But for the purposes of this entry let’s compare more recent history. Can you believe that nonprofit organizations would host an event without using the Internet to get people to attend? Yes, it really happened (and still does). The challenge becomes having expecations of this approach that really are unfair.
How likely is it that your neighbor is going to tell you about the black tie gala he and his spouse are attending next week? Consider, how likely is it that you might recieve an email from a colleague with a link to information about the local “walk to cure something” and would like you to consider sponsoring their effort?
Use of the Internet is exposing us to new ways to reach the next generation of donors…like it or not! Think about how easy it is to send an email to your personal address book. What could be better than your trusted colleague sharing something they think might be important to you. It is not likely that firstname.lastname@example.org is being filtered as spam. It is likely that your local Memory Walk or Race for the Cure is using this approach and it is no accident they have thousands of walkers 35 and younger.
As you prepare for your next event, stop and consider how the Internet can have an impact. Feel free to “send” your thoughts and stories to me.
As a consulting firm we recieve our share of RFPs from organizations that have been given a grant from a foundation to do “capacity building”. Clearly funding capacity building is important and is the type of work we do, but the term means different things to different people. Does this mean helping a client write a fundraising plan? Does it mean educating the board about its role in governing and fundraising? Does it mean developing an outreach plan or helping to choose a software vendor or craft the perfect proposal to a corporation? Does it mean conducting a staff audit to ensure a client has the best staffing model for program delivery? Ultimately the answer is all or some of these items…sometimes more! The challenge is in the RFP process. The intention of the process is to help an organization select the best outside source for help and determine the cost of their services. This may not be the result. We offer a few ideas on how to ensure that the consultant chosen matches the work to be done: 1) Ask other nonprofits in your area who they have worked with and trust and ask those firms for 30 minutes of their time with help defining your scope of work…it may not be a campaign you need, but a an audit of your fundraising ability. 2) Approach the funder with the work already defined and some idea of cost. Demonstrate why you need the type of help you need and emphasize that the process you have undertaken to this point is more efficent. 3) Submit your request for funding. 4) Ask for a proposal for the project you have now defined from the two firms you felt where right for your organization. This will speed the decision making process along beacuse you already have the funding! In the end you are likely to get exactly what you were looking for and the result you want! By the way, to that colleague…thanks Mary Ellen for breakfast.