Sep 24, 2008

Fundraising for Charity in Tough Times

Nonprofits worried about how the nosediving economy will affect their ability to bring in grants and donations will find lots of good material online. Here's a roundup of some choice bits of advice and encouragement:

Direct mail guru Mal Warwick, in the NonProfit Times, reminds nonprofits feeling the financial pinch not to cut the very donor cultivation efforts that will bring them steady returns over the long term. He also gives some excellent comparative analysis of how foundations, corporations, and individual donors change their giving habits during a recession.

Todd Cohen, on Inside Philanthropy, reminds everyone not to panic! He pulls together experts' advice to step up fundraising efforts, and diversify and cultivate your donor base. He quotes Doug Bauer, senior vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York City, as saying donors will likely focus on "need-to-do giving rather than nice-to-do giving." (That obviously puts the onus on you to make sure your nonprofit looks like it's serving a vital need -- but remember, even "optional" activities like arts are vital, when you consider their ability to engage people in other educational and community activities.)

Carrie Hill, on CharityMile.com, suggests (in the context of asking for pledges), asking more people for less, and asking friends to reach out to other friends.

Reporting for Reuters, in an article called "Charities brace for Wall Street decline," Emily Chasan quotes a number of fundraisers who plan to heighten their attention to individual donors, whose loyalties may remain strong even as corporations, for example, are acting out of budgetary, not philanthropic concern.

No one's doubting that the pool of available money is shrinking -- but the consensus seems to be that, with wise management and a careful look at the most likely sources of donor interest, nonprofits will weather this rough patch -- and help those they serve to do the same.