A motivational message for all you tired fundraisers out there...

We’ve all heard the news by now: charitable giving was down in 2022. As a nonprofit, you probably felt it. The shrinking middle class and its inflation-squeezed incomes (which were already flat) have contributed to a worrying decline in middle-class donations. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of Donor-Advised Funds is stashing large amounts of would-be individual donations for an indeterminate later date. What’s a nonprofit development team to do?

“But Envision,” you say, wringing your hands, “we are following our strategic plan! We have a communications calendar…somewhere. And we already have a robust donor acknowledgement program we can barely keep up with! What else can we possibly do?”

Alas, fundraising is not a set-it-and-forget-it deal. If it were, we wouldn’t need all you talented development rock$tars! As you know, financial sustainability for a nonprofit is a maintenance marathon, a hamster wheel that inexplicably gets moved to a new cage every few years. You have to maintain relationships with donors, program officers, and event partners and venues, all while adapting to new technological innovations–not to mention exploring your board chair’s cousin’s latest idea for an earned income!

As patterns of donor giving change and new technologies emerge, opportunities abound for incorporating these developments into our fundraising strategies. Approaches such as community-centric fundraising harness the strengths and prioritize the needs of the people nonprofits serve, while traditional practices such as donor-centric fundraising and direct mail campaigns prove themselves to be less true, and yet still necessary. How do we balance our commitment to our mission with the need to balance our books? How do we incorporate new practices into old strategies? How do we hamsters continue to find joy on the wheel? 

Rhetorical enough for ya? Fear not, for we have an example to inspire you:

Say you’re working on your social media campaign for #GivingTuesday. This year, why not invite your clients to collaborate on your messaging and the images for your posts? (Compensating them for their work, of course.) You’ll learn what’s important to them, how they want to be represented in your messaging, and whether that change in perspective yields a higher rate of donations. You can even A/B test it by publishing staff-produced “traditional” messaging posts alongside your client-produced posts. Build on what works, forget what didn’t, and try something else new next time.

And that is how we ham$ter!

To discover more insights into fund development strategies that can make your nonprofit’s maintenance marathon less of a rat race, join Valerie Lord, Managing Director at Envision Consulting, for the latest webinar in our CauseCoaching series- “How to Win Friends and Influence Fundraising.” Thursday, August 31 at 11:00am (Pacific). Register here: https://hubs.li/Q01-FznG0


Original text by Rachel Reed