Friday, October 24, 2008

Time to knuckle down and stop panicking!

"We have developed a recession budget".

"We expect income next year to be down by 10-15%."

"We are going to stop all donor acquisition next year".

As a consultant I'm fortunate to meet many fundraisers daily. So I hear lots of things: some inspire me, some puzzle me and some downright frustrate me. Like the statements above I have heard in recent times.

Working for a data-led agency you wouldn't be surprised that I have been looking closely in recent weeks at evidence from past tough times to try and forecast what's likely to happen over the coming year.

And the message I am getting consistently (again, looking at real data) and the message I want to convey to you all is the same...

Don't panic people!

All of the evidence from the past, from North America, down under, the UK and other developed fundraising nations suggests that troubled economic times doesnt necessarily mean troubled times for non profits/charities.

I love this article from Advancing Philanthropy which shows that changes in charitable giving are not directly linked to changes in the stock market (in this case illustrated using the Dow Jones Index.

As I have mentioned previously and as we have been demonstrating daily on Pareto Fundraising's Recession Watch blog - the future for us fundraisers is not necessarily bleak.

Yes its true that at Pareto Fundraising we have seen some drop in the levels of corporate support for some charities - however signs are that individuals are resilient and likely to stick with you.

BUT that doesn't mean we can take our eye off the ball. Donor engagement is more important than ever. And if the research I've done over the last seven years on the way we care for our donors is anything to go by, we do have some work to do.

Get back to basics - thank appropriately, listen to what donors want, fulfill your promises to individuals and provide honest and transparent feedback.

Stick to these golden rules and the ship should keep sailing in the right direction.

And leave the panicking for those working in the financial sector, not us fundraisers.

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