As we seek to develop new marketing communications solutions for nonprofits in today’s climate, fundraising will take a front seat across the board. Carefully consider the following tips to help boost your nonprofit’s recession resilience in 2009.
Focus on individual giving: The largest portion of overall fundraising during recessions (80%) comes from individual givers, according to COP. So nurture your loyal donors and make sure they know just how important they are to you.
Curtail or re-purpose large galas or costly events: Consider creating lower-tier ticket opportunities for existing galas; swapping costly events for smaller, mission-aligned gatherings; or seeking donations “in lieu of event” for a targeted list of urgent, micro-philanthropy needs.
Avoid spending too much time and energy on engaging new corporate support: Five percent of fundraising comes from corporate support, which on average declines 1.5 percent in times of economic recession, according to COP. So, focus on servicing, communicating with and adding value for existing corporate supporters to maintain or grow current funding rather than seeking out new partners who may not be able to fund new beneficiaries.
Cut back, but do not eliminate, direct mail: Direct response fundraising makes up close to 60 percent of giving, according to the Direct Marketing Association, and COP reports that 62 percent of organizations surveyed reported gains over time using direct mail. To lower costs, consider paring down your contact list to active donors and continue to contact them. Bolster e-fundraising: For cost-effective communication vehicles, you can’t beat the Web. Consider transitioning important acquisition strategies to less costly e-fundraising techniques versus direct mail, moving select fundraising transactions online or creating “pledging” opportunities for individuals to give over time.
Create turnkey fundraisers: Inspire your donors to co-create fundraisers with you to reduce costs or create simple offline or online auctions. Also, try to seek gifts in-kind to bolster net proceeds.
Anne Erhard, Former Vice President