My colleagues at Achieve recently gave a webinar entitled Fundraising in a Tough Economy. To be honest we have had some very spirited conversation about this. It has not been so much disagreement as empassioned agreement.
Here is what we agree on: Yes, times are tight and without a doubt the turbulent market is perhaps the most volatile ever. We also agree that historically giving is one area of growth in times like this…just look at giving in 1999 and 2000. It increased despite significant market change. We also agree that history is nice but unemployment concerns were not as high then. Our final point of agreement…we have no idea what will happen.
Based on client interaction we have developed a new way to view our current economic climate: the 20/60/20 Rule. We have seen that 20% of donors are simply paralyzed. They have pulled back from everything, including giving. Annecdotally, another 20% have made no change in giving. They are financially secure and are still able to make their charitable gifts. The middle 60% are taking a measured wait and see approach. They are still giving, perhaps less in many cases.
Our advice…focus on the 60% now more than ever! Your case still matters. Those you reach still need your services and one could argue even more now than ever! Why this view?
Imagine the nonprofit that is struggling right now with fundraising? Is it the economy or the result of a poorly formed fundraising program without the board engaged? If so, then the economy has only exposed the weakness.
What about the organization that is still raising money, but seeing a decline in overall giving? Well, who is giving less? What has the organization done to engage at a higher level the middle 60% of donors? Is giving down or is stewardship lacking?
Finally, we hear corporate support is shrinking! Wow, and to think, corporations in total are 5% of total giving. Perhaps this is a case of looking down the wrong well?
Again, we do not have a crystal ball. We do know that empahsizing stewardship and cultivation will ALMOST ALWAYS lead to bigger gifts.
In short, things will improve. They always do, so let this be a lesson for all…the needs of those we serve are why we exist and meeting the needs of our donors is the way we get there. We cannot control everything, we can control how our donors view our importance.
At least 60% need some reinforcement of that!