Don’t blame the economy for faltering fundraising

What’s your excuse?

A lot of nonprofits are blaming the economy for their fundraising pain.

As this post from Civil Society notes, that’s not always the case: Charities can’t blame ‘economic climate’ for falls in income

Oxfam UK attributed its recent £17.6m drop in income to the economic climate. It’s true that the economy has hurt fundraising income around the world. But it’s far from the only factor, and the impact is getting less as the economy improves.

If you blame the economy for your woes, you may be ignoring other factors — things you may have control over. Here are some factors that are much more common and damaging to fundraising than the economic climate:


  • Budget cuts to donor acquisition you made during the recession are haunting you. You went through a period of getting few (or no) new donors. Now those missing donors are not moving up your pyramid. There’s little you can do about that now. You made your bed, now you’re lying in it. Even if you’ve returned acquisition activity to growth (or maintenance) levels, you have a few more years of pain ahead of you.
  • You have a self-centric brand that doesn’t focus on donors and doesn’t empower them to change the world. Increasingly, donors are turning away from charities that have nothing to say but how awesome they are. The fix: start making your fundraising about the donors, not about you.
  • You aren’t talking to donors, you’re practicing fundraising from yourself — using the stories, language, images that resonate with organizational insiders — and failing to aim at your donors.
  • You don’t have real fundraising offers. All you’re asking your donors to do is support the work in a general way. They can do better than that elsewhere.
  • You aren’t taking online giving seriously. Your website is radically unlike your direct mail or other offline channels. Or your giving pages don’t make giving easy, compelling, and clear. Or you don’t have content online that motivates giving.

The good news is, unlike the economic climate, most of these are things you can change.


Comments

2 responses to “Don’t blame the economy for faltering fundraising”

  1. Charlie Hulme Avatar
    Charlie Hulme

    Regardless of the economy people will always spend money on services/products they want or believe in. It’s our responsibility if they don’t want what we offer or believe in what we do.

  2. Charlie Hulme Avatar
    Charlie Hulme

    Regardless of the economy people will always spend money on services/products they want or believe in. It’s our responsibility if they don’t want what we offer or believe in what we do.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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