Fundraising During Uncertainty

It doesn’t matter what organization you are working for these days. If you’re a fundraiser, you are facing relentless ambiguity and unpredictability. Americans are incredibly polarized. Public trust in institutions is waning. The online world has created an insatiable appetite for information. And the direct marketing programs we inherited were built for a vanishing generation. Now what?

Be bold.

Stop manipulating your message to appeal to every donor and every potential donor. Now more than ever, people are yearning to belong to communities that reflect their core values and beliefs. Use your campaigns to preach your organization’s vision and mission. Be confident in your organization’s point of view and defend its position. Stop labeling your issues as red state and blue state.

Take risks.

Innovation has all but disappeared from the fundraising landscape. But innovation is the only way for an organization to remain competitive – not just with other nonprofits, but for the scarce resources of the donor’s wallet.

For years, our industry has been rewarding itself with improvements to the status quo. Whether it’s because our fundraising programs are now measured in ways that discourage fundraisers from taking risks, or the industry is dominated by a limited number of influential and insider perspectives and service providers, true experimentation is nearly gone.

Invest in infrastructure.

If our industry has failed to keep pace, it’s because we lack the data to understand donor habits and preferences, don’t have the platforms to give a personalized and optimized experience, and haven’t changed the metrics by which we measure our success. Now is the time to invest in your digital tool sets, install Google Analytics and e-commerce, overhaul your reporting, clean your data, and evaluate the data you collect, where you store it, and how you use it.

And, through it all, remain authentic.

Today’s donors interact with commercial brands, local stores, and nonprofits in the same way they do with their families and friends. That means they expect the same level of trust and transparency.

Organizations can no longer take a “wait and see” approach to new ideas, channels, strategies, and tactics. Use this time of uncertainty to transform your fundraising program – highlight the failures of status quo, take risks, and innovate.

More to come…