Yes the economy is a bit slow right now but its not all doom and gloom for organizations seeking funding. It is commonly suggested that fundraisers should focus on current donors during a stagnant economy. This is true if you and your organization are content remaining at the mercy of the economy. A down economy and a corresponding reduction in philanthropic giving is the perfect time to begin thinking outside your typical fund raising methods.
Instead of hoping your organization has the foundation of long-time donors to weather an economic slump, consider shifting your efforts to strategic fund raising. Lets face it, most nonprofits do not have a “rainy day fund” stashed away for tough times, but a little innovation can help you keep funding intact or even exceed expectations.
I recently came across this Grantmakers for Education report
that provides a brief overview of benchmarks for trends in education philanthropy. Donors are increasingly looking at their donations as financial investments. It is becoming more and more rare that a significant donor gives to a cause purely out of the kindness their heart. Large donors are still donating but the areas where they put their money are being consolidated. Donors want to see a return on their money; they need to see tangible and quantifiable results.
In the case of education, fund seekers could show how graduates of their program become well rounded contributors to the community, who are now employable which leads to a reduction of crime. This is something that for example, an individual can “buy” into.
That’s right I said “individual.” Take a moment and consider if doing mass mailings, creating and distributing literature, or engaging in other blind marketing techniques are worth the return on investment. Blind marketing is costly and not always effective. It may be more sure-fire to target smaller groups or even individuals. One way to start is to identify a local issue or problem (outside of the obvious goal of your organization) and the key stakeholders. Develop a donation request that highlights how your organization specifically works to alleviate this issue and directly benefits the target donor.
The days of donating simply for the charitable giving tax break are on the back burner. If you imagine it in terms of the giver thinking strategically and donating as an investment, or for leverage purposes, you can modify your donation requests and marketing strategy to meet those needs.