VIDEO: Fundraiser’s Guide to the Australian Fires — and Other Disasters

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The Australian multi-state bushfires are an emergency of mind-boggling proportions.

It calls for response.

And donors around the world are responding.

Emergency fundraising is different. It has its own “rules” and calls for a rather different strategy from normal fundraising. And it has impact on almost everyone, whether you raise funds for the emergency or not.

This emergency has another unfortunate distinctive: Unlike an earthquake a major storm, it is not a quick hit that fades from awareness right away. In fact, the fires are likely to burn for months. That means the urgency to act immediately is lessened. But it also means we will likely struggle with a kind of “donor fatigue” as it comes and goes from the headlines.

Watch the video for more about what you should do in response to an emergency.

Here’s a quick look at what you should be doing:

  • If you are an Australian organisation with work impacted by the fires: This is your time. You should put a lot of effort into your fundraising. Do things right, and you will get new donors, and more revenue from your current donors. But your new donors will have a very low retention rate. See the video for how you can deal with that.
  • If you are an organisation outside Australia with work in the fire areas: This is also your time, but it is likely to fade sooner. Act quickly.
  • If you are an organisation involved in fighting climate change: Because the fires are among the most dramatic signs of climate change, you should emphasise this crisis in your fundraising.
  • If you are an organisation that has nothing to do with the fires: Keep calm and carry on! You may see somewhat lower results to your fundraising efforts — or you may not. But don’t decide for donors that they aren’t interested in your cause too while the fires burn. Cancelling fundraising activities will do far more damage than the fires can. (If you have a lot of donors living in and around fire-affected areas, you may experience more extreme losses of your fundraising.)

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