How disaster fundraising confuses us

When natural disasters hit, fundraising skyrockets.

That’s a good thing, but it also creates a problem: It makes many fundraisers stupid. Because it leads them to believe that the everyday grind of normal fundraising is way too much work for far too little reward.

Disaster fundraising is nothing like normal fundraising. It’s a matter of speed, simplicity, and just being there. Media coverage takes care of the rest, and people give like crazy.

During a disaster, you can raise funds through media that don’t normally work, like spot radio and newspaper print ads. You can even raise funds on Twitter (well, some do). Heck, you could design a dumb, abstract, unoriginal poster and raise funds.

The rest of the time, fundraising is a lot more work: Finding realistic prospects, keeping costs low, telling great stories, building relationships. You do all that, and still don’t raise as much as you do during a disaster.

What a drag!

No wonder we’re all ears when someone comes along peddling disaster fundraising during non-disaster times. Mobile! Twitter! Media blitz! Skywriting!

Just say no. If they’re promising a medium that normally doesn’t work, say no. If they’re promising young donors, say no. If they’re promising over-the-top response, say no.

There are breakthroughs to be made in everyday fundraising. But the path to success is not imitating disaster fundraising.


Comments

2 responses to “How disaster fundraising confuses us”

  1. Great post Jeff. I have been cynical of texting, etc as real fundraising strategies, with the opinion that gimmicks aren’t how to get it done.
    On the flip side, I started working at the Red Cross 6 months ago and this is my first time going through the disaster fundraising from the inside. in some ways it makes me feel like I’ve never raised money before as its such a different style.

  2. Great post Jeff. I have been cynical of texting, etc as real fundraising strategies, with the opinion that gimmicks aren’t how to get it done.
    On the flip side, I started working at the Red Cross 6 months ago and this is my first time going through the disaster fundraising from the inside. in some ways it makes me feel like I’ve never raised money before as its such a different style.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.