Funds for All & All for Funds

Welcome to my blog! I'd like you to consider this an interactive space for sharing information, successes, ideas, strategies, and links to help us all raise more funds for nonprofits.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to Beat the Recession and Raise More Funds by Planning

Giving USA Foundation, which has released reports on philanthropy in America since 1956, cites 2009 as one of the worst downturns in charitable giving in a long time. The Executive Summary of their 2009 report stated:

Total charitable giving fell 3.6 percent (-3.2 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2009, to an estimated $303.75 billion. This is the steepest decline in current dollar terms since Giving USA began its annual reports in 1956. Last year was also the worst year economically in America since the Great Depression. At least through mid-year, financial transactions of all kinds slowed while people considered and worried about the future. Nonetheless, Americans continued to give—less often perhaps, more quietly than in the past—to charity.

That's the bad news -- and the good news. Giving was down, and despite the worst recession since the Great Depression, people still gave to charities.

Last year will doubtless show an improvement in giving, to judge by reports from a number of nonprofits. Still, in this environment, it makes sense to do everything you can to position your organization's fundraising program to make the best use of its strengths and to minimize its weaknesses.

Most nonprofits get a failing grade in one critical element of fundraising: long-term planning. Planning ahead might only mean looking 12 months out, but looking ahead and making a plan, and a budget to go with it, can set you up for success where others are floundering and losing donations and donors.

Another key to succeeding in this economic climate is to rely less on foundation grants and more on individual donors. Foundation giving dropped 8.9% in 2009, while individual giving dropped only .4%. That's easy math to do -- yet many nonprofits don't do nearly enough to mail appeals for funds to their existing donors, let alone to prospective donors. While it's a tough time to prospect in the mail, if you stop completely, your donor universe will shrink.

If you want to download the report and read it for yourself, it's free and can be found here.