Don’t Be A Fair Weather Friend

on in Nonprofit

We now know we’re facing what may be the tightest economy of our lifetimes.  (At least I hope so…)

We also know that donors, whether affluent or just getting by, feel less able to give during uncertain economic times, and that all go through more soul-searching before contributing.. 

This is a time of reflection and a time to return to the basic principles of fundraising, first and foremost of which is:

Fundraising is about values and about relationships, not about moneyMoney is simply the currency through which moral and social priorities are expressed.

In that vein, some thoughts…

Don’t be a fair-weather friend.  Reach out to your supporters and talk about what is happening, to them and to your organization.  Express your understanding and sympathy for what may be a very difficult time.  Let them know your relationship to them extends beyond their moments of generosity, which will surely return, in time.

For those who continue to give, let them know how much you appreciate that continued support, particularly at this moment.

For those who can’t, express your intention to maintain the relationship and to ask at a more opportune time.

Your board members can help with this outreach – reinforcing the teachable moment that fundraising is about relationships, not just asking for money.

Accept help in all forms.  Offer opportunities for people to donate their time as volunteers or to provide in-kind goods and services.  Be creative in providing supporters ways to stay involved, even if cash is tight.

As donors align their giving with their financial capacity, you want to make sure that those who share your values are able to continue to travel along with you, whatever shape that takes.

Repeat after me: Fundraising is Friendraising. While aggressive approaches to attract new donations may not be timely, this is still an opportune time to cultivate new friends and get existing friends to learn more about your work, particularly if you can link your mission to meeting needs which arise from economic hardship.

Donors ‘R Us.  Establishing some common bonds around our anxieties – and some constructive responses – can emphasize to supporters that we are all in this together, as peers.  The bottom line is: we’re going to make it through, and we’re only going to make it through, if we stand together with our supporters as partners.
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