Donor Ecology Changing; Fundraiser’s Must, Too
Recently I asked one of my fundraising clients a seemingly innocent question, mostly out of courtesy: “How’s it going?”
“Fine,” she said automatically, without really thinking about it.
Then she paused, took a breath and told me that she was not at all sure how to keep fundraising when every prospect she meets has a woeful story to tell. She sensed that morale was slipping within her organization, and the persistent news about the state of fundraising and scary statistics about the future only compounded her doubts.
Her fears are not unfounded. The statistics really ARE frightening! For instance, foundations lost $150 billion last year (that’s more than foundations GAVE during the previous four years combined). Corporate donors are experiencing financial distress, and individual giving is down because individual assets are down (suggesting that major gifts will likely decrease 30% in the coming year).
It’s not surprising my client felt a bit stuck about what to do next!
Perla Ni, founding publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review observes in her recent article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review Blog website that donors are facing an “ecological shift.”
Seems to follow, then, that as fundraisers we will also experience a corresponding shift in the ecology of asking for money.
A few thoughts come to mind:
Let go of whining about the changing environment…turn complaints into questions. What can you do right now to anticipate what’s next?
Add value and build your relationships with your funders so that when the economy turns around, you will be well poised to invite investment.
Spend time with your prospects in a way that adds value to their lives now and helps them make the transition to new way of doing business. Share books like The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist that invite donors to think differently about money and help them deeply consider why they give and what gifts of money mean to them.
- Create community by bringing donors and prospects together. Connect them virtually around topics relevant to them and your mission.
And, the old standby…listen. Carefully. Create quality time with your propects by tuning in. A few tips for effective listening are listed on Dr. Mort Orman’s Stresscure website. I especially like #s 2, 4, 5 and 7.
There really is no ready-made formula for how to respond to the current economic crisis, nor the coming new ecology of the third sector. Ironically, the best advice for now and tomorrow is the same as what was true for yesterday, last month, and 10 years ago: pay attention and connect with your funders.
As Yoda said, “There is no TRY only DO!”