Your foolproof crisis pandemic recession election fundraising plan

It’s a weird time we’re in. We are likely in for continued weird-but-weird-in-strange-new-ways.

Are you ready?

I have some suggestions for a number of possible scenarios we all face in the coming months

If the pandemic continues as is

There’s some evidence that donors are less responsive than they were in April, May, and June. If you are seeing that happen, keep connecting with donors.

If the pandemic gets worse

Will donors become more responsive? Less? Either way, keep connecting with donors.

If the pandemic goes away

Fat chance, at least for a while. But it if does, keep connecting with donors.

If we find ourselves in a deep and long-lasting recession

Regardless of what happens with the pandemic, this is pretty likely. And recessions are often bad for fundraising, leading to drops in average gift amounts, and in response, at least for some. But keep connecting with donors.

If there’s US election craziness

It’s hard to imagine it not getting super weird, for days, weeks, maybe even more after November 3rd. If that happens, it is likely to cast a pall over fundraising. If it does, keep connecting with donors.

December is terrible for fundraising

Entirely possible. For any of the reasons above, or a combination. And donor gave at December-like levels for a few months earlier in the year. But no matter how bad December might be this year, keep connecting with donors.

See the pattern?

There are a lot of things that can make fundraising more difficult. And a lot of those things seem very possible in the coming months.

But if you respond to difficult fundraising by going silent on your donors, you are guaranteed to suffer extreme financial losses. If you keep connecting with donors, you will raise something. Maybe worse than normal, but you will raise a lot more than you will if you play possum and do nothing. And remember, when you go silent, you lose not only immediate net revenue, but you accelerate donor attrition — you lose future revenue.

When the pandemic first hit, a lot of fundraisers shut down. They believed donors would be unresponsive, maybe even hostile, to their messages. Those fundraisers raised nothing. And many of them are now in a financial death-spiral they are unlikely to get out of.

While the donors who kept connecting with donors raised record levels of funds.

We may be approaching hard times. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t go that way. Your choice: have a difficult few weeks or months … or raise nothing at all because you were afraid of a difficult few weeks or months.

The choice is yours.

But if you’re serious about raising funds, you’ll keep connecting with donors.


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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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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.

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